Bhairahawa, June 4
The number of tourists coming from third countries to Nepal via the Belahiya point of the Rupandehi district decreased by around 15 per cent in May 2012 as compared to the same period last year.
Continuous strikes organised in the Terai prior to the May 27 deadline of the Constitution Assembly (CA) affected the tourist arrivals through the Belahiya immigration point last month.
According to the immigration office at Belahiya, a total of 1,657 tourists entered Nepal through the point last month, while the number of tourists visiting Nepal via the same point in May 2011 had stood at 1943.
The tourist arrivals through the Belahiya went up in first four months this year. Belahiya is the entry point through which the largest number of tourists to enter Nepal overland.
While the country is celebrating Visit Lumbini Year 2012, the political turmoil and strikes have hit the entire tourism industry, Sanjaya Bajimaya, President of Sidhartha Association of Travel Agents (SATA), said.
According to Yadav Raj Panday, immigration officer at the Belahiya, the highest number of tourists receiving visas in May was from Sri Lanka (282) followed by Myanmar (228), Thailand (197) and the UK (136).
Due to the strikes in Nepal, most of the tourists had cancelled their visits from India and some of those who received visas were also retuned from the entry point without touring in Nepal, he informed.
The immigration office collected a total revenue of Rs. 3.05 million from the issuance of visas in May this year.
A total of 282 tourists from Sri Lanka were provided free visa for visiting Nepal. The Government of Nepal is providing free visa to the new comers from SAARC countries and China.