The far pavilions

A lack of funding is causing Nepal to lose tourists.

The number of international visitors to Nepal in October, the start of the Himalayan kingdom's main tourist season, declined nearly by 18 per cent compared with the same period last year.

According to the statistics by the Nepal Tourism Board, this October saw 27,172 tourists visiting Nepal, while the figure in October last year stood at 33,037. During the first 10 months of this year, Nepal received 177,605 tourists, down 31.3 per cent from 258,605 in the corresponding period last year.

Nepali tourist industry's traditional markets such as the US, the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands got steep declines of 36 per cent, 37 per cent, 18 per cent, 33 per cent and 51 per cent respectively in October.

However, this October saw the increase of tourists from some non-traditional markets such as Spain, Italy and some Asian countries and regions, especially China's mainland and Taiwan Province, Japan, and Bangladesh.

Most of the tourist entrepreneurs in Nepal blame the declining tourism levels on political instability and security problems. The tourist arrivals in the country have plummeted due to security concerns since June last year.

Also the quality of service, regular flight services, and new places for trekking, rafting and travelling also have to be given priority, if Nepal is to revive its tourist industry, said Aditya Baral, publicity manager of Nepal Tourism Board.

"On top of that, the lack of regular flights to China is hampering the tapping of that lucrative market," he noted, explaining: "The Chinese tourists found the cost of coming to Nepal relatively higher than in other countries."

Baral pointed out that meanwhile, other sectors such as transportation, people's participation at the tourist sites and publicity of the new tourist attractions also need to be advertised and promoted to attract foreign tourists. "Lack of budget has been the major constraint to publicise Nepal's full potential," Baral explained.

He added, "Anyhow, quality service is one of the main points for the revival of Nepal's tourist industry."