Though total tourist arrivals fell by 30 percent in 2015 mainly due to earthquake, Tarai unrest and Indian blockade, number of trekkers during the period fell by only 6.05 percent compared to figures of 2014.
Data compiled by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) shows number of free individual tourists (FITs) enjoying trekking in Nepal went up by 1.87 to 15,140 in 2015. Of them, 239 were from SAARC countries.
Last year, NTB had issued Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) cards to 15,127 trekkers, including 239 from SAARC countries.
NTB issues TIMS card to FITs, while TAAN distributes TIMS card to trekkers traveling in groups.
The data reflects that the ongoing economic blockade by India and the impact of earthquake haven’t deterred adventure seekers from enjoying trekking in Nepal.
Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of NTB, said that trekkers’ footfalls despite all the odds are very encouraging. “We believe that this can be the basis for tourism revival in the days to come,” he said, adding that different messages like ‘Visit Nepal to help Nepal’ and ‘NepalNOW’ campaign, among others, helped a lot to bring tourists back to Nepal.
“This also shows that adventure lovers are not disturbed by untoward incidents,” he said, adding that the number would have gone up further had there been no fuel crisis.
The number of TIMS cards issued by TAAN fell by a marginal 7.61 percent to 71,300 in 2015. Last year, TAAN had distributed TIMS cards to 77,174 trekkers.
Data shows number of trekkers was growing strongly until March. Number of trekkers, however, fell by 14.36 to 11,794 in April when the destructive earthquake shook the nation. The earthquake made an immediate impact on tourist arrivals which subsequently affected arrival of trekkers. Number of trekkers fell by 81.26 percent in May and 75.88 percent in June, according to TAAN.
Though the number grew marginally in July and August, it fell by 69.42 percent in September and 30 percent in October. However, number of TIMS cards issued by TAAN increased by 101 percent in November, but fell by 20.47 percent in December.
Annapurna Region was the top choice among trekkers in 2015 with 63.4 percent of the total trekkers visiting the region in 2015, according to TAAN. Second in the list was the Everest region which hosted 27.74 percent of trekkers, followed by Langtang Region which welcomed 7.84 percent of trekkers in 2015.
Chandra Prasad Rijal, president of TAAN, said that the FITs take decision on their own and are not afraid of taking risks while group trekkers want everything planned as they rely on their travel planner and trekking agents. “However, the drop in number of trekkers is very marginal. This shows that the tourism is already on the path of recovery and we can hope for better tourism prospects in 2016,” added Rijal.