Despite drop in tourist arrivals in October — the peak tourist month, trekking and rafting operators saw their business grow by around 12 percent compared to the same month a year ago.According to the statistics of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), total tourist arrivals in October 2012 declined by 7.3 percent – the first decline in more than three years — due to drop in tourist arrivals from the South Asia region which plummeted by more than 30 percent.
Though the drop in arrivals led to decline in the sale of tour packages, entrepreneurs say it did not affect trekking and rafting business as only a few South Asian tourists go on adventure trips like trekking and rafting.
“We observed a small but significant growth in trekking business this season,” said Mohan Lamsal, general secretary of Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN).
Trekking operators enjoyed better business mainly as Chinese tourists have started going on short treks of late. China has remained the fastest growing tourism market for Nepal over the past few years.
Even though the months of October and November are considered peak season for trekking business, Lamsal said bookings for trekking was good till December.
Likewise, Nani Kaji Thapa, president of Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA), said most of the rafting operators have observed growth in their business by up to 12 percent. “It is good to note that our business grew despite drop in the number of foreign tourists,” said Thapa. However, he termed the growth as natural as the period between September till mid-December is considered a good time for rafting in Nepali rivers.
According to trekking operators, there is growing interest among trekkers on newly unveiled routes. “The number of adventure camping treks has also gone up this year,” Lamsal, whose agency operated treks to Upper Dolpo, Kanchanjunga and Langtang this season, said.
Meawhile, TAAN issued more than 27,000 TIMS cards in October – a rise of 10 percent compared to October 2011. Foreigners must obtain a TIMS card before embarking on trekking trips.
“We are happy to retain the business in traditional routes and there has been a significant rise in the movement of trekkers on newly developed routes in Taplejung and Ganesh Himal,” said Gangasagar Pant, CEO of TAAN. “It is important to open new routes in order to attract more tourists rather than promoting the same destinations time and again.”