KATHMANDU, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — The Nepali government has aimed to increase annual arrivals of foreign tourists to over 2.5 million in the next five years from less than a million in 2017, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) said on Thursday.
In a five-year Action Plan (2018/19-2022/23) that the ministry has prepared, the government has targeted to boost the annul arrivals by 2.6 times compared to total arrivals in 2017.
The Himalayan country received a total of 940,218 in 2017 which is expected to reach 1.2 million in 2018. The country has targeted to attract 2 million tourists in the planned Visit Nepal Year-2020.
In order to meet the target, the proposed Action Plan has focused on developing new tourism destinations, completing the under-construction international airports and developing key religious, cultural and natural tourism destinations further to attract more tourists.
It aims to double the existing capacity of country’s only international airport – Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu whose upgrading work is underway, complete two new under-construction international airports at Bhairahawa, a south-western city in Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha and Pokhara, a key tourism city in western Nepal.
“We have not been able to attract tourists as per our potential due to limited capacity of the single international airport and lack of adequate air connectivity with key source markets,” Ghana Shyam Upadhaya, joint secretary at the MoCTCA told Xinhua on Thursday.
Completing reconstruction of the heritage sites damaged by 2015 earthquake in the next three years and the development of key religious and natural sites such as Lumbini, Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Janaki Temple in Janakpur in eastern Nepal, Muktinath in western Nepal and Khaptad in far-western Nepal are other initiatives planned to be taken as per the proposed Action Plan.