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Resurgent Nepal

The Maoists are now leading the government and are talking of robust plans to bring about overall development in the impoverished country.

world Updated: Nov 16, 2008 00:30 IST
Anirban Roy

End of the decade-long Janayuddha (people’s war) saw a major political transformation in Nepal. The Maoists are now leading the government and are talking of robust plans to bring about overall development in the impoverished country.

Bolstered with the change, most western countries have withdrawn travel warnings.

“If we can continue with the present trend, we can soon hope to handle one million tourists,” Sushil Sharma, a tour operator said, adding that most of the hotels have confirmed bookings till the end of 2010.

Despite the global financial crisis, the tourism industry in Nepal is all set to witness a major growth this year. In 2007, more than 5,50,000 tourists came to Nepal, which was 27 per cent more than the previous year.

The number of visitors to Nepal had reduced to 2,75,468 in 2002, and the industry was on the verge of a collapse. But now, the sector is showing signs of resurgence.

The new government has set a target of welcoming one million visitors by 2011. Tour operators are now optimistic that the target can be achieved much before the deadline.

“If the politicians guarantee peace in Nepal, the tourism industry is sure to boom,” Tsering Sherpa, a tour operator in Kathmandu said, adding that government should also ensure safety of the tourists in the far-flung areas.

The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is all out to promote the Himalayan nation across the globe. “We are hopeful that tourism sector can soon be one of the largest foreign exchange earner in Nepal,” Sarad Pradhan, a NTB official said.

The tourism industry could bring in over USD$250 million to Nepal last year. To lure trekkers to Nepal, the government has waived trekking permits and fees to Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions.

The Tourism Minister Hisila Yami has also been able to convince tour operators that Nepal should now focus more on rural tourism.