Indian tourists usually go on holiday with their children during the summer holidays. Bengali tourists generally take their annual vacation during the Durga Puja festival. In India, the tourism market has a large share of domestic tourists traveling within the country. According to the latest data, Indian domestic tourists made 2,321.98 million visits in the domestic tourism market in 2019. The number of tourist visits fell to 611 million in 2020 due to Covid-19. These figures relate to internal visits to the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttarakhand which are close to the border with Nepal and therefore represent a huge potential source market on our doorstep.
Each of the Indian metropolises has between 10 and 30 million inhabitants. In 2022 the population of Delhi exceeded 32 million. Many people from different parts of India visit New Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and nearby regions. In terms of overseas travel, more and more Indians are traveling abroad. In 2019, Indian outbound trips totaled 27 million. Nepal failed to attract India’s burgeoning middle class in larger numbers. Not that Nepal hasn’t tried. It has participated in all major tourism fairs such as OTM Mumbai, TTF and South Asia’s Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) Delhi.
In May, 20 tourism entrepreneurs, led by the Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal Airlines Corporation, attended the SATTE held in Greater Noida, India. The Nepal Tourism Board has shown a good presence in India in cooperation with private companies. From time to time unique promotional campaigns have been carried out in different cities of India such as Casino Package and Pashupatinath and Muktinath Packages.
Despite these efforts, only 200,000 to 300,000 Indian tourists arrive by air and 300,000 to 400,000 by road. In comparison, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Dubai, which entered the Indian market after Nepal, have already made great leaps to attract many tourists from the Indian market. Many European countries and Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Dubai have made their presence felt through their liaison offices and PR representatives in various states of India, making Nepal a tough competitor. These liaison offices are in constant contact with India-based tour operators and hoteliers to make arrangements in cooperation with their country’s airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel agencies to send Indian tourists to their destinations through attractive packages.
Looking back on past events, it is worth noting that in 2008 the then Executive Committee of the Nepal Tourism Board made the decision to open a liaison office in New Delhi. The Nepal Tourism Board has asked the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi to pursue this process, but no reply has been received from the Central Bank of India. The Executive Committee of the Nepal Tourism Board could therefore not give high priority to opening a liaison office in Delhi.
At the time, the Indian government seemed to have taken over the planned liaison office as a financial transactions office. Later, the board of directors also became indifferent to the reasoning. And even after all these years we still haven’t managed to set up a liaison office in India. India is an important tourism source market for Nepal. The Indian market, which for many years accounted for 30 percent of total tourist arrivals in Nepal, has now shrunk to 20 percent. In order to preserve the old market and conquer new segments in it, the Nepalese tourism industry needs to focus all their efforts in a plan, dividing India into four market segments based on the population of the cities and the tendency of residents abroad.
Correspondingly Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi in North India; Siliguri, Calcutta, Ranchi and Patna in East India; Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad and Jaipur in western India; and Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Coimbatore in South India should be our interesting destinations for carrying out sales missions, road shows and promotional programs. New avenues need to be explored to re-market Nepal’s image in Indian markets; new technologies need to be disseminated, Nepali tourist destinations should be promoted in Indian electronic media, and various TV programs need to be promoted. For religious and spiritual tourism, we must appeal to the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Southern States to encourage their citizens to visit religious places like Pashupatinath, Muktinath, Barahakshetra and Janakpurdham in Nepal and Kailash Manasarovar in China.
For youth oriented adventure sports, Nepal tourism industry needs to cooperate with Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal Airlines to provide various packages such as educational trips for schools and colleges and treks to Everest Base Camp, Manang, Mustang, Rara and Khaptad. Nepal Rastra Bank should promote electronic transfer, visa card and travel debit card payment for hotel, trekking and travel arrangements. Orientation programs should be implemented immediately to train border guards and security personnel on the highways to provide a more comfortable and friendly environment for visitors.
At the same time, the long-awaited goal of opening a liaison office of the Nepal Tourism Board in New Delhi is to be pursued in order to strengthen the support programs in India. The Federal Bureau of Tourism and Immigration Services must have a physical presence at significant points of entry to facilitate the movement of tourists coming overland. India is experiencing remarkable economic growth and more than 50 percent of its population is under the age of 25 and more than 65 percent is under the age of 35. This young generation with money and zeal likes to get out and explore the world. And Nepal as a neighboring destination has so many things to offer to attract India’s unstoppable and untapped source market by land and air.