Tourism in Nepal: History and Current Trends-2024 

UPDATED ON 31 May, 2024
Tourism in Nepal: History and Current Trends-2024 

Nepal, a country popular for its magnificent natural beauty, long history, and warm people, has recently begun to attract more tourists. The tourism industry is very crucial within the economy of the country as it is a major source of income and employment opportunities. Tourism in Nepal has been a booming business in recent years and it is projected to attract over a million visitors in 2023-24 as opposed to the 150,000 tourists in the year 2010 A.D.

Various factors attribute this to the increased popularity of adventure travel, the expansion of middle-income earners in neighboring countries including China and India, and enhanced infrastructural development.

This rapidly expanding industry not only assists Nepal in generating revenue but also plays a significant role in presenting the country and its traditions to the world.

However, the rapid growth in the sector also has its challenges that need some serious consideration. One of the most important problems is the conservation of the natural environment of Nepal, which is an extremely sensitive country.

These landscapes are very sensitive as they contain many different ecosystems and a lot of biodiversity, and growth in tourism places a lot of stress on them. Thus, it is crucial to promote sustainable strategies that would help in preserving the natural resources of Nepal in the long run for future generations. To this, another important issue that has to be discussed is the equity of tourism distribution of advantage

Since the business has shifted towards the urban centers, rural areas are likely to be devoid of the opportunities that come with the tourism business. Therefore there is the need to spread the gains of tourism to the various regions in the society to foster the development of all.

Due to these challenges, stakeholders in the Nepalese tourism industry are exploring strategies to achieve sustainable growth. They are also working on a project with Swiss companies, renowned for their efficiency in travel and tourism. Here are some lessons we can learn from Switzerland regarding marketing, management, and environmental conservation.

Switzerland is among the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to the implementation of sustainable tourism strategies.

Thus, it can be suggested that following the partnership with the Swiss firms, Nepali firms need to implement environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive practices that are sustainable. This means providing renewable energy, proper waste disposal, and engaging in other neighborhood activities to enhance the local economy.

In addition, Swiss associations can provide Nepal’s tourism industry important training and various programs for the development of required skills. This partnership enhances the delivery of services that meet the needs of the locals and the guests, thereby enhancing the overall service delivery in the hospitality industry.

The country can increase the number of tourists and target European markets through the help of Swiss corporations. Nepal has a lot to offer in terms of eco-friendly tourism and cultural experiences, and the Swiss government should promote this country as it is the leader in responsible tourism.

There is a bright future for the tourism industry in Nepal, and sustainability is a key element that should not be neglected. Thus, Nepal can allow people to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage and welcome world tourists by implementing green tourism and sustainable development.

For instance, the Newa Chen Hotel is a social business that compensates its staff fairly and uses all its earnings to support the Children’s Home of the NGO Kam For Sud as one of the sustainable tourism practices in Nepal.

In the three family homes, the Children Home provides shelter, nourishment, and learning to about sixty orphans and abandoned children. Any visitor who opts to spend their time at the Newa Chen Hotel can be of great importance in this regard. The children will not only be benefiting from their help, but the volunteers will also be staying in a beautiful and historically rich hotel.

In partnering with the Swiss companies, there is a prospect of enhancing the capacities of Nepal’s tourism sector and introducing the best practices that will guarantee job creations, community upliftment, and environmental conservation. Thus, coordinated efforts and commitments towards sustainable and responsible tourism can make Nepal a model for a sustainable and flourishing tourism sector that sets example for the world to follow. 

History Of Tourism in Nepal

This is because after Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa became the first climbers to conquer the main peak of Mount Everest, and this marked the beginning of tourism in Nepal. Before 1951, the Rana Regime did not allow any foreign person to enter the country thus, tourism was the only source of revenue.

These events did not start the tourism industry in Nepal as the successful ascent of Mount Everest. In 1956, the government established the National Planning Council for Tourism to coordinate the Ministry’s activities in planning tourism development. The tourism sector in Nepal began in 1959 with the establishment of the National Tourist Development Board and the launch of the Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation.

Hippies began to realize in the 1960s and early 1970s that Nepal was the place to obtain large quantities of hashish and marijuana. In 1973, the government began to take note of the situation and outlawed the sale of hashish and marijuana. This proved to be a pivotal moment for Nepal’s tourism industry. Due to the nation’s traditional religion and culture, an increasing number of individuals began to travel there.

Due to a significant influx of Tibetan refugees, Buddhism began to gain popularity. In the 1980s, the Nepal Tourism Board publicly began to promote Nepal as a fantastic holiday destination as the country’s population grew more diversified and dispersed. Every year during the 2000s, the number of tourists visiting the nation has increased. 

Development of Tourism in Nepal

The tourism industry in Nepal developed further as the Nepalese government and the public became more conscious of the need to conserve the country’s natural resources. People believe Nepal is the second richest country in the world in terms of water resources.

Furthermore, this also contributed towards developing cities, for instance, Pokhara also known as the city of lakes. Tribhuvan International Airport is the only international airport in Nepal hence the capital city of Nepal has a lot of tourists. Some of the accommodations that have also been established in Kathmandu include several hotels, eateries, and guest houses to host people.

Although Mount Everest was the most famous tourist attraction in Nepal, changes began to occur as there were new trekking routes that were being opened. Pokhara has also done its part as far as tourism is concerned by promoting treks in the adjacent areas of the valleys and mountains as well as cities. The base camp of Mount Annapurna located at an elevation of 8091 meters or 26545 feet is a popular trekking destination.

There are new challenges to some of the highest mountains in the world that have become famous on the paths of Everest and these are also congested with tourists and trekkers. Nepal is a country in the Himalayas and it has eight of the ten highest mountains in the world. 

This is why hiking has become the leading activity that tourists engage in when visiting Nepal. Tourism activities such as trekking have been embraced in cities, and other thrilling activities like ziplining, bungee jumping, rafting, and paragliding are slowly being introduced to tourists. The following are some of the interesting features of Nepal.

Tourism Trends In Nepal

Nepal attracts trekkers from all over the world with its unwavering realness, mystical aura, and pure beauty. Boasting eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, Nepal has made tourism its 4th largest industry and a primary source of foreign currency. It’s the expression of humans’ innate nature to remain hopscotching from one spot to another in the allure of recharging oneself and shunning away the worn-out layers of anxiety and stress.

Airlines, lodging facilities, car-bike rentals, and other travel agencies are important markers of tourism foot traffic in Nepal, according to data from the Nepal Tourism Board. During the first half of 2023, 476,480 foreign visitors arrived in Nepal via flight. Aside from occasional disruptions brought on by earthquakes and unfavorable circumstances brought about by the pandemic, Nepal’s tourism industry has grown steadily, and the country has seen an increase in the number of visitors.

Many travelers seeking refuge from the grind of hectic life find adventure, mental serenity, comfort, and tranquility in Nepal. For those who enjoy climbing mountains and seeking adventure, it’s a heaven. In the mountainous area, Buddhism is more common at higher altitudes and Hinduism is more common at lower altitudes. 

More about Tourism Trends

Humans are naturally drawn to finding their paradise—or, more accurately, a means of escaping the harsh realities of everyday existence. Nepal has been able to keep the natural atmosphere of its places intact. Blessed by the goodness of Mother Nature, those places are situated far from the average person rushing around a 9–5 job.

Since the early 1950s, Nepal has been a popular destination for anyone looking for a private meeting with cosmic divinity in the shape of immaculate settings. Although there has always been a sincere desire on the part of humans to establish a close relationship with nature, the language used to categorize these endeavors has evolved. Following the pandemic’s aftermath, Nepal’s Tourism is slowly growing. 

The pandemic forced people to face harsh realities, which may have inspired intrepid travelers to spend more time in nature. As a result, they developed widespread practices that have essentially reduced human contact with the natural world.

Hyperlocal travel, milestone travel, sustainable tourism, culinary tourism, wellness retreats, and technology integration are the most popular travel trends in the world this year and may continue to rise in popularity the following year. The so-called new trend on the block, which is especially relevant to Nepal, is described in this article.

Transformative Travel

It especially caters to those who have chosen to seek such a form of travel that caters to self-love, wellness travel, etc. It’s more like seeking refuge in the arms of Mother Nature. Thus, transformative travel offers yoga classes, retreats, rejuvenation, and self-reflection opportunities. It encourages learning about natural surroundings, understanding the local mindset, and building meaningful relationships with local people.

Remain more focused on consuming locally or organically grown food, shunning the non-vegetarian diet for more soothing palates. 

A staycation

Another new trend that has emerged and abruptly become noticeable in the travel industry is the staycation. This concept appeals to the idea of “vacating domestically rather than traveling abroad or spending time at home with day trips to nearby attractions.” Lukla, Namche, Chandragiri, Pulchoki, and so on are possible places for these kinds of endeavors.

Holistic travel

Holistic travel is dedicated to appreciating and incorporating aspects of holistic health, i.e., physical, mental, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and environmental health. A truly therapeutic approach, holistic travel isn’t necessarily only about yoga practice; it can be attaining fitness, training in the mountains, hearing the conversations of birds, and hearing the soft murmurs of the winds. Holistic travel experiences are a junction to heal from mental, spiritual, and physical stress. It caters more to the ideology of thinking locally and tweaking.

Tours on Mustang bikes

Visiting the enigmatic Mustang Valley and the Annapurna Himalayan Zone, which welcomed visitors in 2016, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that takes place beyond the ultimate frontier—the final forbidden kingdom of Nepal.  The bike tour cruises around the majestic Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,167 meters) and Mt. Annapurna ( 8,091meters), cycling through the trans-Himalayan zone, riding along the nomads’ land, passing by the Gompas and the palace of the Mustang King, and bathing in the endless blue azure with hearts. 

How many tourists travel to Nepal this year? 

Nepal, a country that is famous for its natural beauty, culture, and the challenging treks that it offers to tourists, has made a remarkable achievement in its tourism industry. Nepal received more than one million tourists in this year 2024 for the first time in the last four years. This is due to an increase in tourism activities which is good for the Nepalese economy after it has faced several challenges.

A Great Start to the Year: Breaking Records

The new year 2024 has brought new hope for Nepal’s tourism industry. A total of 79,100 tourists visited the country in January only, and this provided a good foundation for the other months.

The arrival of tourists had increased to around 176,500 by the end of February, an excellent 37%. This is a 57% rise in comparison to the same time last year. This increase reflects that international travelers are gaining confidence in Nepal as a safe and viable destination to visit.

Key Source Markets

India and China are the major source markets for Nepal as the number of tourists visiting Nepal is concerned. The number of Indian tourists who have visited Nepal has tremendously been high, with 25,578 tourists from India visiting Nepal in February only. Likewise, Chinese tourists have also played a great role, with 9,180 tourists in that particular month. The United States, Germany, Australia, and Myanmar are also among the leading in terms of sending tourists to Nepal.

The increase in tourists from these countries shows that Nepal is a destination of interest to many tourists regardless of the purpose of the visit including religious tourism, cultural tourism, nature, and adventure tourism. Lumbini, the Wosreligion of Buddha,  has remained popular amongst Buddhist tourists from Thailand and Myanmar, and in turn, has positively impacted the tourism sector.

Economic Consequences and Potential Developments

This is a great milestone for Nepal as it has been able to attract more than one million tourists despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel. This is because the increase in the number of tourists does not only benefit the hospitality and travel industry, but the whole economy. This means that there will be more business activities, which will in turn create employment and contribute to the growth of the economy.

The Nepal Tourism Board(NTB) and the government have not been idle in their efforts to market the country as a tourist destination. Increased flight frequencies, advertisement campaigns, and the relaxation of visa requirements also contributed to the increase in the number of tourists. The government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has remained quite optimistic about the prospects for tourism in Nepal amidst other economic woes.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the encouraging statistics on tourist arrivals, several challenges persist in the Nepalese tourism sector. The road infrastructure, especially to the most important tourist destinations such as Chitwan, Pokhara, or Lumbini is still insufficient. Some factors such as high charges for air transport and standards of road transport need to be improved to meet the needs of tourists.

In addition, the tourism sector must still be proactive in responding to the new trends and choices of tourists in the world. Other important strategies include promoting sustainable tourism, improving the quality of services that are offered, and ensuring the security of the tourists.


Thus, reaching the milestone of one million tourists in 2024 demonstrates Nepal’s continuing attractiveness as a tourist destination and the strength of its tourism industry.

Ongoing efforts to expand and upgrade the infrastructures and encourage ecotourism will help to further bolster Nepal’s status in the travel industry. Both are positive in terms of the numbers and an encouraging sign for the future economic development of the country in the Himalayan region.