Nepal Boosts Tourism with Visa-Free Policy and Visa on Arrival

Nepal is making strides in boosting its tourism sector with a new visa-free policy for Indian citizens and a visa on arrival for nationals of three countries, including China. This move is anticipated to propel tourism growth in the region. Nepal, famed for its captivating landscapes and rich cultural heritage, is attracting a greater influx of tourists, especially from India, its neighboring country. In the first half of 2024, Nepal witnessed a remarkable rise in foreign tourist arrivals. Data from the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) reveals that an impressive 583,016 international visitors arrived by air by the end of June, signaling a promising resurgence in the tourism industry. Nestled between China and India, Nepal is a federal democratic republic with Kathmandu as its capital. The country’s geography is marked by the majestic Himalayan and Annapurna mountain ranges, adorned with significant rivers like the Karnali and Koshi, contributing to its stunning natural beauty. Nepal achieved a significant milestone in 2023 by attracting one million foreign tourists, with India being the primary source of visitors, indicating a robust recovery from the pandemic’s aftermath. The increasing tourist arrivals are evident when comparing the numbers for June over the past years. In June 2024 alone, Nepal welcomed 76,736 foreign tourists, surpassing the previous peak of 74,883 in June 2019. This underscores a substantial recovery, especially considering the drastic fall to just 102 tourists in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The subsequent years showed a steady rise, with 11,887 arrivals in 2021 and 46,957 in 2022, illustrating a resilient rebound. India remains the leading source of tourists, with 37,835 arrivals in June. American tourists formed the second-largest group, with 8,281 visitors, followed closely by 7,494 tourists from China. These figures highlight Nepal’s wide appeal across various international markets. A significant event in 2024 was the declaration of Pokhara as Nepal’s tourism capital. This announcement was made during a vibrant ceremony at Barahi Ghat, showcasing cultural performances that highlighted the region’s diverse heritage. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ led the event, reiterating the government’s commitment to advancing Nepal’s tourism infrastructure. As of 2024, Nepal grants visa-free entry for citizens of India. Nationals from Maldives, Bhutan, and China can obtain a visa on arrival. Citizens of other countries need to acquire a visa either upon arrival or online before their visit. Pokhara, renowned for its scenic beauty, is situated beside Phewa Lake, with the Annapurna range providing a breathtaking backdrop. It serves as a starting point for treks like the Annapurna Circuit and offers tranquil boating experiences on Phewa Lake. Cultural sites like the Bindhyabasini Temple and the World Peace Pagoda add to its allure. Furthermore, the newly completed Pokhara International Airport, facilitated by China, stands as a testament to Nepal’s development efforts, despite initial disagreements regarding its association with the Belt and Road Initiative. The first half of 2024 has been a promising period for Nepal’s tourism, reflecting a significant resurgence in international interest. The strategic focus on regions like Pokhara and the continuous development of crucial infrastructure are key drivers behind this resurgence. With its unique blend of natural beauty and rich cultural tapestry, Nepal remains a top destination for travelers seeking both adventure and tranquility.

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