Foreign tourists are gradually starting to appear in Thamel, the major tourist hub in the federal capital, Kathmandu.
With the reappearance of large number of tourists in the streets of Thamel, tourism entrepreneurs are hoping for a revival of their business, severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The tourism sector of Nepal, which has been suffering since the corona pandemic for a long time, is happy with the arrival of tourists", said President of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nilhari Bastola.
The months of March, April and May are considered as the start of tourist season in Nepal. The number of hotel bookings by foreign tourists has increased with the start of the tourist season, said Gopal Pangeni, the owner of the four-star hotel Ramada Encore in Thamel. He said that 70 percent rooms in his hotel with 92 rooms, have been booked for March and 90 percent for April and May.
This shows that that the tourism sector of Nepal will gradually gain momentum in the months to come.
More than 80 percent of the tourism business in Thamel relies on foreign tourists while 20 percent of the business comes from domestic tourists. There are more than a thousand hotels in and around Thamel area. "Foreign tourists have gradually started to be seen in the inner streets of Thamel", said President of Thamel Tourism Development Council Bhaviswar Sharma.
Likewise, the guests coming for late night entertainment have also started getting crowded. During the weekends on Friday and Saturday, there is more activity in Thamel. Night clubs in Thamel have also started to return to usual business.
Proprietor of the Shot Station Restaurant and Bar, Dharmaraj Paneru, said that the number of foreign guests who come to Thamel for entertainment at night has increased. "Since the last 15 days, the night business is gradually getting better, which has made us happy", he says.
Director of Nepal Tourism Board Maniraj Lamichhane says that the arrival of foreign tourists is encouraging in recent days.
A total of 73,255 tourists visited Nepal by air in the month of February 2023. In January the number was 55,074. Last year in February only 19,766 tourists had arrived in Nepal while it was just 9,146 tourists in 2021, according to records maintained by the NTB.