Thamel witnesses a resurgence in tourist activity


October 9, 2023


Thamel witnesses a resurgence in tourist activity

Foreign tourists in Thamel/File Photo

KATHMANDU:  As autumn makes its way, Thamel, one of Nepal’s premier tourist hubs, is witnessing a resurgence in tourist activity.

This revival is bringing newfound optimism to local business owners who have faced numerous challenges in recent years.

The aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquake, followed by a blockade, and the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, had taken a severe toll on Thamel’s tourism sector.

Many businesses were grappling with financial woes.

However, as the tourist season gains momentum and visitor numbers rise once more, the entrepreneurs are beginning to see a glimmer of hope.

Bhagwan Thapa, the proprietor of a popular restaurant in Thamel renowned for its delectable cuisine and dumpling specialties, reports a notable increase in the influx of foreign tourists.

Thapa remarks, “In previous months, we hardly served 10 to 15 local and international guests daily. This month, we’re welcoming 45 to 50 visitors each day, with the majority being foreign tourists.”

Kiran Dev Ghimire, who runs a bookstore in Thamel for over a decade, echoes the sentiment, stating that there is a significant surge in foreign tourist numbers.

“We’re now seeing foreign tourists browsing our shops in Thamel,” he comments.

Ghimire also highlights the challenges faced by tourists due to inadequate road maintenance in the roads.

Sitaram Regmi, a businessman in the textile trade in Thamel, expresses a different perspective, noting that despite the increase in tourist activity, textile trade has declined compared to the previous year.

Concurrently, hotels in Thamel are beginning to fill with foreign guests as tourist activity picks up.

Mahesh Phuyal, the general manager of a hotel in Thamel, reports that hotel rooms have been booked for the autumn season a month in advance.

Sahdev Dhamala, a hotel owner in Thamel, acknowledges that the short-term visits by tourists have not translated into the anticipated level of business for the area.

Dhamala, who also serves as the vice-chairman of the Thamel Tourism Development Council, reveals that discussions are underway with various agencies to devise strategies to prolong the stay of foreign tourists in Thamel.

Bhabiswar Sharma, President of the Thamel Tourism Development Council, observes a growing presence of foreign tourists in Thamel’s streets.

He comments, “With the onset of the tourist season, a Council has been established to enhance the convenience and safety of both domestic and international tourists.”

Additionally, the Council is collaborating with the security agencies, including the Nepal Police, Traffic Police, Tourist Police, and Metropolitan Police, to address crowd control and nighttime security concerns.

They are also working to manage the tangle of wires, install CCTV cameras, and repair potholed roads in Thamel.

According to the Nepal Tourism Board, a total of 692,372 foreign tourists arrived in Nepal by air in the first nine months of 2023.

Of these, as many as 91,012 tourists visited Nepal in September alone, with the majority hailing from India.

The statistics reveal that in September, Nepal welcomed 28,694 Indian tourists, along with 8,174 from China and 7,364 from the United States, as per the Nepal Tourism Board.

Furthermore, Nepal saw 3,716 tourists from Bangladesh, 3,640 from Britain, 3,011 from Sri Lanka, 2,852 from Germany, 2,081 from South Korea, and 1,734 from Israel.

Dr. Dhananjay Regmi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nepal Tourism Board, emphasizes the pivotal role played by Indian tourists in Nepal’s tourism sector and reveals that the board has launched initiatives to attract more tourists from India and China.

He suggested that facilitating easier entry for Indian tourists at various checkpoints and improving their border-crossing experience would further boost their numbers.

The Nepal Tourism Board’s data shows that in 2019, Nepal hosted 1,197,191 tourists, followed by 230,000 in 2021, 150,962 in 2021, and 614,148 tourists in 2022.