Kathmandu, March 24
For the last one and a half years, our foreign exchange reserves were reduced and the economy was under severe pressure. Last January saw the highest level of reserves in just 19 months and the pressure has eased. According to the latest data of Rastra Bank, foreign exchange reserves have reached 13 trillion 83 billion rupees till January.
Foreign exchange reserves have increased due to the improvement in various sources of income as well as the decrease in imports. One such source is the tourism sector.
As the number of tourists has increased recently, the income of this area has also increased. Compared to last year, this year's income has increased by 107 percent. From July to January of the current financial year, the income from tourists is 32 billion 230 million rupees. In the same period last year, the income was only 15 billion 535 million rupees.
The first vice president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Pradeep Pandit, says that the income of the tourism sector has contributed to the foreign exchange reserves.
'Tourism is one of the main sources of foreign exchange income,' he said, 'The income of the tourism sector, which has been stagnant for a long time due to Covid, did not increase. Tourists have increased in the last few months. It also seems to have contributed to foreign exchange reserves.'
From July to January of the current fiscal year, 457,000 tourists entered Nepal through air transport. While last year only around 122,000 people came during the same period.
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As the tourist season starts, the tourists going trekking and mountain climbing are making advance bookings, says Vice President Pandit. According to him, there has been an encouraging increase in the number of tourists after the epidemic. Along with this, there is excitement in the trekking business.
More than one and a half million tourists go trekking and mountain climbing every year. Their stay on such a journey is long. This increases their expenses. The more they spend, the more we benefit.
Pandit says that if the private sector and the government cooperate to extend the stay of tourists, the tourism sector will become stronger and this will help the country's economy.
"The more days tourists can stay, the more benefits they will have," he said.
Most of the tourists stay in Thamel until they go to another destination. Due to this, there is data that more than three thousand foreign tourists travel to Thamel daily.
Vinayak Shah, the first vice president of the Hotel Association of Nepal, also says that the tourism industry contributes to foreign exchange reserves.
"Until some time ago, the foreign exchange reserves were reduced. One of the main reasons is the need for more income from the tourism sector. At that time, there were fewer tourists. Now they are starting to grow. This seems to have helped to improve the foreign exchange reserves, said Shah.
According to him, there is currently 25 percent occupancy in hotels across the country. Before Covid, hotels used to be full during the tourist season. He said that tourism should be promoted according to the new policy to bring it back to the previous situation.
All countries need tourists to improve their economic situation. Other countries have implemented many packages to bring in tourists,' he said, 'we have fallen behind. Government policies and programs have not been made about how many tourists to bring from where.'
China has opened its citizens to travel abroad since March 15. It has also included Nepal in the list of must-visit countries. This indicates that Chinese tourists will increase in the coming days.
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