Tue, 22 Sep 2020

Kathmandu [Nepal], August 13 (ANI): Despite the COVID-19 induced economic slowdown, Nepal is expecting to host about 2 lakh foreign tourists in the ongoing fiscal year 2020-21, of which majority will be Indians, according to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) officials.

The current fiscal year of NTB is set to end in mid-July 2021.

Even after ties between India and Nepal have strained over the Himalayan nation's controversial map incorporating the Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, tourists from India continue to be the mainstay for Nepal's tourism industry.

"We still have 10 months of this fiscal year and flights may not resume before September. We have estimated that over 200,000 tourists will visit Nepal during this period. We have also finalised our policy and programmes that mentions the target," Deepak Mahat, a member of the NTB, said.

"Out of the set target, we expect the majority to be Indian tourists. In the earlier years, the number of Indians have stood high and we are confident that it would remain the same. Once the situation here improves, the numbers will increase," he added.

In 2019, Nepal welcomed a total of 1.17 million foreign tourists, which was slightly less in 2018 when it stood at 1.52 million. As many as 209,611 Indians visited the Himalayan nation followed by China at 169,543.

The number of tourists from the United States stood at 93,196; United Kingdom 61,139; Sri Lanka 55,869; France 30,644; South Korea 29,679 and Spain 19,057.

The tourism sector, which is Nepal's major source of revenue, has suffered a loss of more than one billion Nepali rupees due to COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of arrivals in the current fiscal year slashed, NTB expects revenue of about 200 million Nepali rupees.

Majority of Indians arriving in Nepal visit religious sites such as Pashupatinath, Lumbini, Pokhara and other places of interests. A large number of Indian pilgrims flock to Nepalgunj and take a flight to Humla's Simikot from where they avail a chartered helicopter service to Hilsa, while heading for Kailash Mansarovar. (ANI)

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