KATHMANDU, June 30: Despite sustaining growth in the number of tourist arrivals, tourism entrepreneurs said their overall earnings in the first half of 2012 remained less than the same period last year, as tourists stayed shorter and did not spend much in activities like trekking and rafting since May.
"The average length of tourist stay during the period dropped to two nights, whereas it was between three to four days in the same period last year," said Kaushal K Singh, director of Gokarna Forest Resort.
As a result, almost all hoteliers said their revenue dropped by 20-25 percent during the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.
According to entrepreneurs, the industry was doing well till the first four months of 2012. Till April, Nepal had witnessed 25 percent growth in tourist arrivals and the span of their stay too was fairly long.
However, the industry took the beating in the month of May and June, particularly after political instability, back-to-back bandas for as much as 28 days in May had instantly created panic among tourists already in the country.
Consequently, a majority of tourists left the country, cancelling their trips in the middle. Travel agencies and hotels announced up to 30 percent cancellations in May as well as June.
As a result, the tourist arrivals growth rate, which was at 25 percent till April, shrank to 10 percent in May. Entrepreneurs said the situation looks glommy till the month of August.
"This caused the number of trekkers to decline suddenly," said Mahendra Singh Thapa, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).
"The turnover of trekking agencies has gone down by 20 percent during the first six months of 2012 than the same period last year," he added.
Though rafting operators said they enjoyed nominal growth in business, they attributed the rise to growth of domestic tourists. "We catered to 40 percent more domestic tourists during the period. Despite that our overall revenue grew only by 10 percent," said Nani Kaji Thapa, president of Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA).
Despite the disappointing performance during the first six months of 2012, entrepreneurs said they are hopeful about the upcoming season. "Bookings for the period of October to December look promising. So, we are optimistic the upcoming peak season will deliver good results," Singh said.