Nepal's tourism income rivals its earning from exports

29th Aug, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, Aug 29: Nepal's earning from tourism sector climbed to 643 million U.S. dollars in the last fiscal year 2017-18 which concluded in mid-July, as it rivals the Himalayan country's earning from export, Nepal's central bank said.

The earning from the tourism sector is close to the income that Nepal makes from exports which stood at 721 million U.S. dollars, according to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank of the country.

According to the annual report on the country's macro-economic and financial situation released by NRB last week, foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector has been growing rapidly in the last three years as the sector recovers from the impact of the deadly earthquake in April 2015.

Nepal earned 552 million U.S. dollars from tourism in fiscal year 2016-17 and 392 million U.S. dollars in the previous fiscal 2015-16, according to NRB.

When it comes to export, Nepal has been struggling to boost its export as the landlocked country has a disadvantage of not having linkage with the sea. The infrastructure required for export industry has also remained poor.
Although the Himalayan country targeted boosting export to one billion U.S. dollars by mid-July 2013 when it implemented its 12th 3-year periodic plan in 2010, the figure has not been met yet.

However, stakeholders in the tourism sector said the data represented mostly the spending made by the foreign tourists in hotels and restaurant sectors, but no various other activities such as trekking and tours.

"We are preparing a 'Tourism Satellite Account' to determine the exact earning from the sector and the sector's overall contribution to the national economy," Deepak Raj Joshi, chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the main tourism promotion body of the country, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

As Nepal targets to welcome two million foreign tourists annually by 2020 when the Himalayan country is set to mark "Visit Nepal Year 2020", earning from the tourism sector is expected to soar.

"Income from the tourism sector will definitely surpass that from export of goods," Joshi said.

Nepal welcomed 940,218 foreign tourists in 2017. By the end of July, the country has already witnessed arrivals of 593,299 foreign tourists, according to Nepal Tourism Board.

Nepali economists say that the tourism is emerging as a key sector for foreign exchange earnings for the country, which boasts a large section of Himalayas including the world's tallest mountain Mount Qomolangma and Lord Buddha's birth place Lumbini.

"We have to work towards increasing the length of stay of tourists in Nepal to improve earnings from the sector," Shankar Sharma, former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission, the main planning body of the Nepali government, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

"But, we should not forget the export sector as export industry helps creating mass employment."(Xinhua)