Overland tourists reach 81k

Nepal welcomed 81,116 overland tourists in the first seven months of Nepal Tourism Year 2011, up 15 percent from the same period last year.
According to the Department of Immigration, tourist arrivals through land entry points during the period January-July last year amounted to 70,517. The figure does not include Indian tourists as they are not included in the arrivals data unless they enter Nepal at Kodari.
NTY has targeted bringing one million tourists by 2011 including 300,000 overland visitors. Total arrivals in the first seven months of 2011 reached 361,691 including 280,575 by air.
According to the Department of Immigration, Sri Lanka accounted for the highest number of overland arrivals in the first seven months, followed by Thailand, China, South Korea, the US, and the UK. A total of 18,023 Sri Lankan tourists visited Nepal via land routes as of July this year. Among the seven land entry points—Kodari, Kakkarbhitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Kanchanpur, Dhangadhi and Nepalgunj—Bhairahawa accounted for 54 percent of the arrivals. Arrivals through Bhairahawa, the gateway to Lumbini, amounted to 52,784 during the review period. According to the department, 153,757 tourists entered Nepal overland in 2010, against 130,634 in 2009. Bhairahawa alone received 102,059 tourists in 2010.
Travel trade entrepreneurs have attributed the rise in overland tourists to the increased number of Buddhist pilgrims to Lumbini. Religious travellers visit Lumbini after visiting Bodhgaya, Sarnath and other Buddhist spots in India, according to travel trade entrepreneurs. The government has planned to develop Bhairahawa Airport as a regional international airport in a bid to exploit the pilgrimage tourism potential. Government statistics show that the number of pilgrims increased 96.6 percent in 2010 to 101,335 from 51,542 in 2009. Total arrivals in 2010 reached more than 600,000.

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