With Nepal already well established as a destination for trekking and mountaineering expeditions, the NTO is now moving on to promote the destination for culture, soft adventures and corporate incentives to widen its market and achieve less seasonal footfalls.
Nepal Tourism Board’s CEO, Deepak Raj Joshi, said: “Our aim is to promote Nepal as a very high value, unique experiential destination. We also want to grow tourist arrivals in line with the new National Tourism Strategy 2016–2025 which targets 2.52 million tourists annually by 2025.”
This year, Deepak expects Nepal to breach its one-million arrival mark for the first time in the country’s history.
From January to June 2017, arrivals rose by 41.5 per cent to 460,237 tourists.
Deepak said: “Tourism in Nepal has completely recovered from the earthquake of 2015. Part of the reason for the strong growth is that tourists who had held back their holiday plans to Nepal after the earthquake were finally back this year.”
In line with its new vision, Nepal Tourism Board is conducting more promotions towards niche interest groups such as bird watchers, photographers and pious Buddhists.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is also attracting Buddhists from around the world who begin their religious circuit from Nepal to India.
Marketing efforts will also play up Nepal’s culture, its national parks and local cuisine.
Sanjay Mathema, president at Travel World Experiences, a DMC, believes that Nepal Tourism Board is on the right track.
He said: “Nepal has always been associated with mountaineering because of Mt Everest. It is the right move to change the perception of people and to make known other products that the destination can offer.”
Travel World Experiences has seen growing interest from the silver-hair markets of Japan, the US, the UK and France. These travellers are interested in soft adventures and unique, luxurious experiences in Nepal.
Nanda Kumar, managing director, Hidden Asia Travel & Tours based in Kuala Lumpur, is also seeing keener interest in Nepal among his Malaysian corporate clients.
Kumar said: “We see clients increasingly asking for exotic destinations to incentivise their top achievers, and Nepal falls into this category. A popular activity is a helicopter tour to see Mt Everest up close and the surrounding mountains. This is symbolic, as the client’s top achievers have been to the tallest mountain in the world. The sky is the limit for their future achievements.”