Nepal Tourism Decade 2023-2032 : Tourism Sector Hopes to Set New Milestones in the Next Decade

The new tourism promotion campaign aims to bring 3.5 million tourists in the next 10 years

the HRM

The Nepali tourism sector went through a tumultuous three years in the wake of the global outbreak of the coronavirus that devastated international travel. But with the subsiding of the pandemic, the sector is now buzzing with new plans, expansion, and growth strategies. The surge in tourist arrivals in 2022 along with the start of the commercial operation of Pokhara Regional International Airport and the Gautam Buddha International Airport have signaled that Nepal is ready to welcome international guests more than ever.

With these positive developments, the government is planning yet another grand strategy to reinvigorate the tourism industry. On December 25, 2022, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation unveiled the strategic framework designed for the Nepal Tourism Decade 2023-2032 with a target to bring 3.5 million tourists in the next 10 years.

Developed by a four-member expert panel led by the former Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha, the framework has set ambitious targets such as increasing tourist spending to USD 125 daily from the current USD 48, creating 1 million direct jobs in the tourism and increasing the sector’s contribution to national GDP to 10 percent.

The government has planned to bring the tourist numbers to pre-pandemic levels by 2024 and increase arrivals in each subsequent year by 15 percent.

The decade will have tourism campaigns organized across the country province-wise. While 2023 will be the year for preparations, 2024 will be the tourism campaign year in Bagmati Province, 2025 in Gandaki Province, and 2027 in Lumbini Province. In 2028, the focus will be on Madesh Province, while campaigns will be organized in 2029, 2030, and 2031 in Sudur Paschhim, Province 1, and Karnali Province, respectively. The year 2026 and 2032 will be marked by national-level programs.

When Covid-19 hit the world, Nepal had already started the tourism extravaganza of Visit Nepal Year 2020. The campaign, launched to attract two million tourists and earn Rs 200 billion in foreign currency, was formally canceled due to the global health emergency. And, what followed was the worst years for the Nepali tourism industry. The tourist arrivals hit a 34-year low in 2020 when only 230,085 foreigners visited Nepal. The next year, the situation was even worse as Nepal received only 150,962 foreigners, the lowest since 1977. In 2019, Nepal had 1.2 million tourists visiting the country.

Despite the government’s grand tourism plan, there are still some stumbling blocks that could derail the recovery prospect. For Nepal to get a good number of international tourists in the coming years, the operation of two recently built international airports is critical in this context. Tourism entrepreneurs agree there is a dire need to improve connectivity if Nepal wants to gain from the post-pandemic period in which tourist inflow is expected to surge.

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