Nepal to witness significant growth of tourists in 2008

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Bangalore, Jan 12 (UNI) With growing peace and political stability witnessed in the changed political context, Nepal, the enchanting tourism destination on the lap of Himalayas, will see a substantial growth in tourist arrivals this year, a top official said.

A drop in tourist arrivals during the last two years will be a past thing now as the Nepal Tourism Board is expecting a 27 per cent jump in tourists visiting the Himalayan Kingdom this year, with Indians comprising 35 per cent of the total tourist arrivals.

Speaking to UNI at the 59th Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) here, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) CEO Prachanda Man Shreshtra said media reports in the West had blown out of proportions certain events happened in this country during the last two years.

''Tourists were never harmed by any group in Nepal and all of them even want the Tourism industry should grow. We are happy that India is fully supportive and the best partner of Nepal,'' he said.

Nepal is a vibrant and happening destination with 500 events and festivals taking place every year. The Himalayan country is a place for mediation and salvation and attract a huge number of Indians to places like Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Muktinath temple in Jamsom, Ram and Janaki temple in Janakpur and pilgrimage tour to Kailash Manasarovar every year, Mr Shreshtra quipped.

He further said NTB had decided to offer packages to cater to different types of tourists from this summer. ''We are now offering 'Soft Adventure' package for youth where they can enjoy paragliding, trekking, mountain climbing, white water rafting and canoeing.'' ''For family and friends we are offering 'Fantastic Weekends' and for senior citizens we offer 'Life time experience', taking them to religious as well as exotic locations,'' he added.

The NTB chief said the tourist in flow from South India was constantly increasing but the problem was air and land connectivity.

The highest number of tourists visiting Manasarovar last year were from Karnataka. ''We are in talk with private airliners like Kingfisher to introduce flights from South India. Nepal Airlines would be also resuming its flights from Mumbai from April,'' he added.

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