Nepal is a land of discovery and unique experience and rich with ancient cultures and the most dramatic scenery in the world. Nepal is the ideal destination for broad-minded individuals who value authentic and mesmerizing experiences. A lot of visitors come and revel in the untouched and the undiscovered.

The tourism sector is the backbone of the Nepalese economy. For many tourists, Nepal’s greatest attraction is its people. The traditions and famous hospitality of its many different groups make Nepal so special for visitors from all over the world. From remote mountain villages to medieval hill-towns and the ancient cities of the KathmanduValley, the people of Nepal are always welcoming. Therefore, visitors come and experience the strong and unique flavors of Nepalese cuisine, prepared with love and a depth of flavor, and join in and celebrate at one of the many festivals year-round. In Nepal, there are more festivals than days of the year. There is nowhere else in the world that can offer as many festivities as Nepal.

There is a lot more about the tourism sector of Nepal, here, we explain some of the top trends and statistics in the Nepal Tourism industry.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

Nepal is known as an ideal destination for trekking, adventure tourism, wildlife, and culture. The Nepalese tourism industry suffered significant losses during the Covid-19 pandemic. The highlyanticipated government campaign, “Visit Nepal 2020” had to be completely called off. The campaign aimed to draw 2 million foreign visitors during the year 2020, but COVID-19 disrupted everything.

However, tourist footfalls are gradually increasing in Nepal as coronavirus-related restrictions are eased. According to the Department of Immigration, in March 2022, Nepal received 42,006 tourists via flights, of whom 15,013 tourists were from India followed by 4,029 tourists from the United Kingdom and 4,896 from the United States. Last year in the same period, only 14,977 foreign tourists visited Nepal.

Pre- and Post-Pandemic Trends and Statistics

  1. Nepal hosted 1.19 million foreign tourists in 2019.
  2. The ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ campaign, officially introduced on 1 January, aimed to attract 2 million tourists, generate $2 billion and create thousands of new jobs.
  3. In response to Covid-19, the government suspended the ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ initiative on 3 March.
  4. When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 13 March, the government suspended all permissions for mountaineering expeditions and suspended all visas.
  5. On 23 March, the government locked the countrydown and suspended all national and international flights.
  6. Massive cancellations of hotel and tourist bookings followed, resulting in widespread unemployment, loss of income, and threatened livelihoods for thousands.
  7. The collapse of international and domestic tourism followed a 2% drop in tourist arrivals in January 2020 compared to 2019.
  8. Over 10 000 tourists who had entered Nepal before the lockdown was also left stranded, although many of them were eventually repatriated.
  9. According to a paper from the Journal of Tourism and adventure, the Nepalese economy had suffered a preliminary loss of 14.37% as travel had been restricted around the world. 
  10. According to the Nepal tourism statistics, Nepal hosted 230,085 tourists in 2020, a drop of more than 80% compared to 1,197,191 in 2019.
  11. In the first 11 months of 2021, around 126,000 tourists visited Nepal.
  12. In November 2021, approximately 26,487 tourists visited Nepal, the largest number of tourists since the pandemic began.
  13. In October 2021, 26,135 tourists visited, which was a big jump from the 9,898tourists that had visited during September.
  14. Now, quarantine is not required for fully vaccinated tourists and the visa on arrival is reinstated for vaccinated tourists or the ones with a negative PCR test.
  15. The impressive rate of growth in tourist arrivals in recent years, especially in the business travel category, coupled with the high occupancy rates for 5-star hotels in Nepal signal opportunities for investment in this sector. 
  16. The construction of many luxury hotels in different parts of the country has seen progress.
  17. Investors of new hotel projects are trying to take an early lead in marketcompetition as normalcy has resumed. 
  18. Numerous luxury hotels with casinos have opened in the cities near the Indian border.
  19. More international hotel chains have started to arrive in Nepal. Marriott, Aloft, Ramada, and Hyatt Place have opened in recent years
  20. Several of the big hotel chains have hotels under construction such as Sheraton, Double tree by Hilton, Lemon tree hotel, Le Meridien, Dusit Thani Resort, and Holiday Inn.

Contribution of Tourism to Nepal’s Economy

  1. Nepal’s tourism revenue in 2018 accounted for 7.9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supported more than 1.05 million jobs.
  2. Nepal recorded a total of 230,000 tourists in 2020.
  3. In 2020, Nepal was ranked 154th in the world in absolute terms.
  4. With 0.0079 tourists per resident, Nepal ranked 189th in the world.
  5. In South Asia, Nepal ranked 6th.
  6. In 2020, Nepal generated around 238.00 million US dollars in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 0.71% of its gross domestic product and approximately 1% of all international tourism receipts in South Asia.
  7. The tourism sector employs 371,140 people, representing 11.5 percent of persons engaged in all industries in Nepal.
  8. Tourism is Nepal’s fourth-largest industry by employment.

Tourism Industry Insight

  1. Nepal’s hospitality industry grew rapidly in the last decade with an increased number of arrivals.
  2. Bagmati Province, which includes Kathmandu Valley, accounts for the largest number of tourism personnel in the country, 161,674 persons or 43.6%.
  3. Province 1 comes second with an employment number of 56,782 persons or 15.3%.
  4. Lumbini and Gandaki provinces employ 47,827 and 47,447 persons, respectively.
  5. Sudurpaschim Province has 17,195 tourism workers.
  6. Karnali has 14,123 tourism workers.
  7. Province 2 has 26,092 tourism workers.
  8. The number of people engaged in restaurants and mobile food service activities is 243,790 or 65.7%.
  9. The number of people engaged in short-term accommodation activities or the hotel industry is 76,010 people or 20.5%.
  10. The country’s airlines employ 2,750 people.
  11. 17,899 people are engaged in beverage selling activities.
  12. Travel agencies provide 13,223 jobs.
  13. The number of establishments in the tourism industry is 134,832, making up 14.6% of all establishments in Nepal.
  14. Bagmati Province has the largest number of 49,234 tourism establishments, accounting for 36.5% of all establishments in the tourism industry.
  15. Province 1 has 24,900 tourism establishments with Everest National Park and Ilam being the main draws for visitors.
  16. The number of establishments in Gandaki Province is 16,412 with Pokhara Valley, Mt Machhapuchchhre, Annapurna range, and Gorkha being the major attracting factors for tourists.
  17. Lumbini Province has 19,211 tourism establishments and its key allures are Lumbini and Banke and Bardia national parks.
  18. Rara and Shey Phoksundo national parks are the major sites of Karnali Province which has 6,351 tourism establishments.
  19. Sudurpaschim Province has 7,604 establishments with Khaptad National Park and Shukla Phanta National Park being its key destinations.
  20. There are 11,120 tourism establishments in Province 2 where Parsa Wildlife Reserve and Janakpur are the major tourism sites.
  21. The number of tourist standard hotels rose by 54.3% between 2012-13 and 2019-20.
  22. The number of star hotels increased by 29% during 2012-13 and 2019-20.
  23. 72 firms received refinance loans worth NPR 8.99 billion for the first 4 months of 2021. More than55% of the firms were tourism-related businesses.
  24. The tourism businesses received NPR 4.95 billion, which covered more than half of the issued refinance loans
  25. Nepal-Bangladesh Tourism Promotion and B2B Exchange Program in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is an initiative started to promote each other’s destinations through mutual tie-ups. 
  26. Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) with Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to generate 1,000 short-term jobs for workers in the tourism industry.