April 18, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Omicron dents recovery of tourist arrivals

The Nepal Weekly
February 15, 2022

Nepal welcomed a total of 16,975 foreign visitors via air route in January, with 32.41 per cent of arrivals from the SAARC region. The data, compiled by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), unveiled on Sunday show that the number of foreign visitors nearly doubled when compared to the corresponding period of last year.

According to the Department of Immigration (DoI), 8,874 foreign visitors had entered the country via Tribhuvan International Airport in January of 2021.

Nepal received most number of Indian nationals last month at 3,916, who made up 23.07 per cent of the total arrivals. They were followed by US visitors (3,257 or 19.19 per cent), UK (1,824 or 10.75 per cent), Bangladeshis (1,236 or 7.28 per cent) and Australians (1,213 or 7.15 per cent), according to NTB. Arrivals from India had topped the list of the same month last year also, with 4,028, according to the DoI. Back then, China was the top second source country with 1,877 arrivals recorded from the northern neighbour. The latest data, however, show that only 321 Chinese nationals arrived via air last month, which made up 1.89 per cent of the total arrivals for January.

This can be attributed to China’s ‘zero COVID’ policy and the economic giant imposing new lockdowns to tame the spread of the coronavirus.

Even though last month’s arrivals data seem to be a significant improvement compared to the same period of last year, it is actually quite a drop against the arrivals figures of December 2021. Tourist arrivals had witnessed steady recovery in the second half of last year as the vaccination rate picked up and travel restrictions were eased around the world.

However, the emergence and rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease has discouraged travel and many countries have enforced curbs again. Consequently, Nepal’s foreign visitors’ number that had gone up to 26,135 in November last year had fallen slightly to 24,679 in December, as per DoI.