Role of aviation in increasing tourism industry of Nepal

Looking through tourism prospect, Nepal is a gifted country to promote tourism. Nepal is rich in natural beauties gifts, resources and there are many places and things of cultural, historical and religious importance. Tourism has a great role in our country’s development as it accounts for 7.5 percent of Nepal’s GDP.

The earthquake of April 25, 2015 feels like yesterday that caused chaos all around the country. It shook not only to peoples but in different aspects of the country and tourism being one of them. Now the country’s tourism has been bouncing back slowly after the effects done by earthquake. Nepal finally achieved its aim to bring more than 1 million tourists in 2017 which was the most-awaited goal of the country as of data maintained by Department of Immigration (DoI). Nepal today has good tourism and economic indicators. With this achievement we can now forecast growth in tourism in upcoming years.

As we have achieved the long awaited goal to bring 1 million tourists in the country, we must find ways to sustain and encourage in growth of tourism. We have a bigger challenge to sustain the current tourism growth for which we require sound tourism infrastructure, attractive products packages, stable policies and good strategies. This year in 2018 the government is observing 2018 as ‘Visit Nepal Year’ with plan to draw almost 1.5 million foreign tourists to promote Nepal as tourist destination in the global market.

As the ways to enter Nepal is basically through the country’s borders with India and China and the only international airport — Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the connectivity through air-route is in frail stage due to availability of only 1 international airport. Also the condition of TIA, which is regarded as the ‘gateway to Nepal’ is not proper. While the tourism promotion with cross border is taking its advantage to bring tourists, it would be much more effective to bring tourists of other third countries via air-routes.

After the drastic improvement in tourism sector, the government has been highly prioritizing the construction of second international airport in Nijgadh to enhance connectivity to and from Nepal. In current phase site clearance and infrastructure development works are underway at the planned Nijgadh International Airport. The construction of Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa has also paced up and is has made progress. Although the development of new airports are helpful, improving the standard of TIA and adding new aircraft to the fleet of Nepal Airlines are essential to achieve the set foreign tourist inflow target in current situation.

With the full construction of new international airport Nepal will have wide connection to global market but for current situation of weak air connectivity the immediate solution will be to add aircraft to the fleet of Nepal Airlines and increase international flights. The national flag carrier of the country Nepal Airlines and government has already developed a business plan to upgrade Nepal Airlines and its services and is in process of acquiring two wide-body aircraft and government is also adding other fleet in national flag carrier. After acquiring new fleets Nepal Airlines will gradually connect its flights to different foreign destinations and facilitate international travelers to Nepal. This can help foreign tourist to visit Nepal at lower cost as currently air-travel cost to Nepal is comparatively higher which is discouraging foreign tourists to visit the country.

Nepal has now seen good increment in the tourism sector following the hopes of stability in the country. Stable politics, government and its policies are crucial to sustain the current indicators of growth in the tourism industry. Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal has also been helping to promote Nepal as tourism destination and has been running a campaign to attract five million tourists annually by 2030. There is immediate need of enhancement of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to strengthen Nepal’s aviation sector. There is requirement of effective manpower in government agencies working towards tourism sectors that can make a difference in the country’s tourism industry. Construction works of different planned tourism projects, including the construction of different airports should be paced up. Country should also focus on quality tourism products like development of good hotels and services in tourism industry and should also introduce various promotional activities to lure foreigners.

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