KATHMANDU: Nepal has been receiving more than 1.36 million Indian tourists annually, according to a survey conducted by Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. The overland Indian visitors’ survey 2017 showed that 1.20 million Indian tourists travelled Nepal through the surface route while 160,132 travelled via air route.

If the Indian overland tourists are taken into account, the country has already hosted 2.14 million tourists.

The survey was conducted at six entry points—Kakarvitta, Jaleshwor, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar—along Nepal-India border. The survey does not include those Indian visitors who have stayed for less than 24 hours and those who entered Nepal on foot.

The study showed that Belihiya in Bhairahawa was the busiest entry point. Out of the total Indian arrivals through surface route, 441,352 entered through Belihiya. The highest number of Indian travellers—604,705—travelled Nepal through car, van and jeep being the most popular mode of transportation. Similarly, 515,456 travelled through bus and minibus and 83,200 through motorcycle. The survey has been conducted among 1,200 respondents at six entry points in the months of March through May 2018.

The survey said that the average length of stay of Indian tourists travelling Nepal through overland was 5.8 days. Despite the largest arrivals from the southern neighbour, the average expenditure of Indian visitors was as much as Rs11,310 during their stay.

Of the total visitors, more than half stayed at ordinary hotels and only 1.3 percent stayed in 5 star hotels, the survey said, adding that 83 percent of visitors managed their tours themselves and 17 percent purchased a packaged tour.

The main purpose of visit was holiday and pleasure followed by pilgrimage. The survey said that friends and relatives were the primary source of information to the Indian visitors.

“It is highly recommended that Nepal should roll out promotional programmes targeting north Indian cities as majority of respondents during the survey had received information about Nepal from their friends and relatives,” the survey said.

Majority of visitors were service holders and students and they were within the ages of 18-34. There were 40 percent female and 60 percent male visitors.

The survey said that besides the six entry points covered by the study, many visitors enter Nepal through other points such as Pashupatinagar, Ilam; Biratnagar; Vittamod, Janakpur; Dhangadhi, Krishnanagar, Kapilvastu; Gulariya, Bardia and Koilabas, Dang-which are not included in the survey.