From Peak to Peak: Nepal's Tourism Peaks with One Million Visitors in 2023

From Peak to Peak: Nepal's Tourism Peaks with One Million Visitors in 2023

By Author

Published on December 31, 2023

Nepal has triumphed over the challenges of the past, celebrating the arrival of one million foreign tourists in 2023, marking a significant rebound for the Himalayan nation's tourism sector, deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement comes from Maniraj Lamichhane, the Director of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), who shared the exciting news on Wednesday.

Lamichhane revealed that the set target of attracting one million foreign tourists in 2023 has been met, with Indians emerging as the largest group of visitors to this picturesque nation. "This achievement, reached three days ahead of schedule, is the highest number of arrivals since 2019," Lamichhane declared, adding, "It has added excitement to the tourism sector."

Despite a challenging global scenario, these foreign visitors, all arriving by air, have contributed to a remarkable recovery in Nepal's tourism sector. The COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted the arrival of foreign guests until the previous year, but 2023 has seen a resurgence, surpassing the figures of 2019.

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In 2022, the number of foreign visitors was 614,148, while 2021 witnessed 150,962 arrivals. The year 2020, marked by the pandemic's onset, recorded 230,085 foreign visitors entering Nepal. Lamichhane attributed this swift recovery to the resilience of the tourism sector and suggested that with enhanced marketing efforts, the arrival numbers could have been even higher.

 

Looking ahead, Lamichhane expressed optimism about the potential for further growth if international flights resume from the airports in Pokhara and Bhairahawa. He acknowledged some international conflicts impacting the tourism sector but emphasized that the government's target for the year had been met.

Breaking down the demographics of visitors in 2023, Lamichhane highlighted that Indian guests comprised the largest share, accounting for 30% of the arrivals. Notably, the number of Indian visitors has seen a significant uptick, surpassing 300,000 from 254,000 in 2019. Similarly, arrivals from other countries, including the United States and China, have also witnessed an increase.

As Nepal continues to open its arms to global travelers, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" celebrated this achievement, highlighting the success of the government in revitalizing tourism in the nation.


TUI Group Expands Hotel Operations into Sub-Saharan Africa

TUI Group Expands Hotel Operations into Sub-Saharan Africa

By Nishang Narayan

Published on April 20, 2024

TUI Group, a prominent tourism organization based in Germany, is set to expand its footprint in the hotel industry by venturing into Sub-Saharan Africa. Building upon its robust presence in North Africa where it operates 76 hotels, TUI plans to introduce eight new properties across several key destinations including Cape Verde, The Gambia, Senegal, Tanzania, and Kenya.

The expansion not only signifies TUI's growth strategy but also marks the launch of its new luxury hotel brand, The Mora, with its inaugural property, The Mora Zanzibar, slated to open soon. This luxury brand is designed to offer contemporary luxury and tailored services, setting a new standard in high-end hospitality in the region.

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Artur Gerber, Managing Director of TUI Blue, highlighted the strategic intent behind the expansion: “With our diverse hotel brands, we aim to create novel hotel experiences in Africa for various target groups—from budget-friendly holidays at TUI Suneo to luxury experiences at The Mora. We are excited about contributing to the African hospitality sector and collaborating with local communities.”

In addition to The Mora, TUI is also introducing the TUI BLUE Watamu in Kilifi County, Kenya. This 117-room hotel represents the first TUI Blue branded hotel in Kenya and is being developed in partnership with Sands of Darakasi Resorts.

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Wesam Okasha, Head of Global Development at TUI Blue, emphasized the collaborative efforts: “This project in East Africa is a prime example of our commitment to sharing our expertise and developing new hotels on the African continent in partnership with local entities. We are actively seeking further franchise opportunities to continue our expansion.”

TUI Group’s strategic focus in East Africa includes key destinations like Mauritius, Tanzania, and Kenya, with a current portfolio that boasts over 90 hotels and more than 30,000 rooms across seven countries. This expansion aligns with TUI’s broader goal to diversify its global presence and enhance its offerings in emerging tourism markets.


Extendam Acquires Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla

Extendam Acquires Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on April 18, 2024

Extendam, a prominent player in the hospitality sector, has made waves with its recent acquisition of the Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla Hotel from Aliseda Inmobiliaria, a subsidiary of Blackstone. This strategic move adds another gem to Extendam's portfolio, marking its seventh operation in Spain.

Strategically located in Seville's bustling Torneo Empresarial business district, the 4-star hotel boasts 140 keys, a restaurant, fitness center, and meeting rooms, making it an ideal choice for both business and leisure travelers. Notably, the hotel underwent a refurbishment of its common areas in 2023, ensuring a contemporary and inviting ambiance for guests.

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Partnering with Continuum Hospitality Group for operations, Extendam is poised to offer exceptional services and experiences to patrons of the Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla. With its prime location adjacent to a bus and metro station, proximity to San Pablo airport and Santa Justa train station, and easy access to Seville's attractions, the hotel caters to a diverse clientele.

Jean-Marc Palhon, President of Extendam, expressed optimism about the investment, citing Seville's robust tourism sector and favorable market conditions. He highlighted Seville's status as the fourth most visited city in Spain, emphasizing its resilience to seasonality and potential for revenue growth.

Continuum Hospitality Group's expertise in the Spanish market further solidifies Extendam's confidence in this venture. The partnership underscores Extendam's commitment to delivering excellence while adhering to stringent ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards set by both Extendam and the Hilton brand.

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In line with Hilton's sustainability initiatives, the hotel management will prioritize environmental conservation, particularly in addressing water scarcity and reducing energy consumption.

The transaction received support from BPCE and CBRE, further underscoring the collaborative efforts behind this successful endeavor.

Extendam's acquisition of the Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla Hotel reflects its strategic vision and commitment to enhancing the hospitality landscape in Spain. With a focus on quality, sustainability, and guest satisfaction, Extendam and its partners are set to elevate the guest experience while driving value for stakeholders in the vibrant city of Seville.


Saudi Arabia Announces Plans for Oxagon, the World’s Largest Floating Structure in Neom

Saudi Arabia Announces Plans for Oxagon, the World’s Largest Floating Structure in Neom

By Nishang Narayan

Published on April 17, 2024

Saudi Arabia is set to redefine industrial and economic development with its ambitious project, Oxagon, touted to be the world's largest floating structure. Part of the expansive Neom development in the northeastern region of the Kingdom, Oxagon is strategically positioned on the Red Sea, near the bustling shipping lanes of the Suez Canal.

Designed with a unique octagonal shape, Oxagon will combine onshore and offshore developments with a significant portion extending into the Red Sea. The city is planned to serve as both a port and a logistics hub, enhancing Neom's role as a centre powered by renewable energy within Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative. This initiative aims to diversify the nation’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

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One of the project’s striking features will be the division between the land-connected base and its massive floating counterpart, which is claimed to be the largest of its kind globally. The floating section is expected to feature innovative water-filled squares and small canals, a state-of-the-art cruise terminal, and an oceanographic research centre.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasised that Oxagon will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification in Neom and across the Kingdom. He noted, "Oxagon will contribute to redefining the global approach to industrial development in the future, focusing on environmental protection while simultaneously creating job opportunities and stimulating economic growth."

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The project also aims to enhance Saudi Arabia's role in regional and global trade, positioning Neom as a new key player in international trade flows. This development is part of the broader Neom project, which includes various other futuristic initiatives like The Line, a 170-kilometre-long city designed to house nine million people with minimal environmental impact.

As Oxagon takes shape, it stands as a testament to Saudi Arabia's forward-thinking approach to blending advanced technology with sustainable urban planning. However, the Neom project continues to face scrutiny over sustainability practices and the impacts on local communities, highlighting the challenges of undertaking such transformative developments.

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