THE Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) will step up overseas promotions in the next few months in order to rebuild confidence and traffic for the upcoming peak season starting September.
NTB administrative chief, Ramesh Kumar Adhikari, said: “We’ll focus on the China and India markets as they are our top two sources. Apart from media fam tours in June and July, we’ll rely on Honorary Public Relations Representatives stationed in Europe to design programmes like sales missions and events to promote Nepal.”
International visitor arrivals by air plunged 40 per cent year-on-year in May in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.
Despite irreparable damage to certain areas in Kathmandu Valley, NTB said it remains safe to visit Nepal: only two of 36 trekking routes and three of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been affected, while 90 per cent of hotels are operational.
Heritage sites, including damaged ones like the collapsed Dharara Tower, will also reopen to tourists from June 15.
NTB’s Adhikari said: “We want to create new interest for visitors to see 721 damaged sites. The (monuments) will be rebuilt in future but given the long time frame for design and reconstruction, we decided to let tourists see the remains.”
Nepal’s travel trade is dangling discounts in order to rebuild tourist numbers.
Worldways Tours & Travels has specialised in the Chinese market for over 20 years and handles around 12,000 pax annually. “All traffic for May, June and July was cancelled and this involved about 2,900 clients. In order to help traffic return, the company will charge 50 per cent less on services and products like hotels and tours until end-August,” said executive director Varun Mehta.
Nepal Social Treks & Expedition’s general manager, Basu Panday, hoped business will bounce back by September and is offering a 20 per cent on adventure tours until then.
But Panday added: “China still hasn’t lifted its travel ban on Nepal whereas the US and Europe have started to come back and help.”
Nepal’s consulate in Hong Kong issued a record 40,000 visas last year but travel consultants here that TTG Asia e-Daily interviewed remain cautious, saying they will continue to monitor the situation.