Nepal witnesses the highest number of tourist arrivals from India. One of the important factors has been an increasing number of airlines from India flying into Kathmandu.
“Due to close proximity and close culture our main market is India. This year, till September 2012 the number of Indian visitors have been 1,38,143. The number has increased by 23.1 per cent as compared to the same period the previous year. India is already the biggest market for us but there is still potential for more, which we have to tap. Every year we make a plan on the markets and devise our strategy based on the demands of the private sector as they are doing the business,” said Sunil Sharma, manager – Research, Planning & Monitoring, Nepal Tourism Board.
Traditionally a leisure and pilgrim destination for Indian visitors, there is a fast emerging segment of young Indian travellers, who are opting for Nepal as a destination for adventure tourism. “We see an increasing number of university and college going Indians going for adventure activities like trekking. That is a big opportunity for Nepal. Adventure tourism is a new trend seen amongst Indians. I found some NRIs flying in from United States and go directly to trek in Nepal,” said Sharma, pointing out that the Indian Army personnel are interested in mountaineering. They come often to summit Mount Everest. One of the new products that Nepal is offering is The Great Himalayan Trail.
Indians are a growing segment who are showing interests in different segments of tourism products that Nepal offers as a destination. “One of the main segments is the cultural highlights of Nepal. Those who come from north India are more for the leisure segment, while south Indians have keen interest in pilgrimage sites. The north Indians are adventurous as well,” informed Sharma. The leisure segment visits Kathmandu followed by Chitwan National Park,and then Pokhara.
The MICE market has also been growing from India. “When you come to Kathmandu within 45 minutes drive you are on the countryside around Kathmandu Valley where you can see the Himalayan range. So you can have a conference on the backdrop of the Himalayan range. They are also enthralled by the beauty of Pokhara,” pointed out Sharma.