Kathmandu: More than half of the tourists visiting Nepal are Indians, and a majority of them used land routes to enter the Himalayan nation, according to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
According to report released by the NTB Friday, a study, which it has undertaken on a daily basis throughout the year 2012, found that at least 694,136 Indian tourists visited Nepal in 2012 and 528,321 of them entered Nepal through eight border points.
NTB estimates show Nepal received 1.33 million tourists in 2012, including Indian arrivals, through surface transport.
The survey, ‘Indian Visitors to Nepal by Land 2012’ reveals that a total of 152,710 vehicles entered Nepal through the surveyed border entry points or eight busiest entry points between the two countries.
The number of overland Indian visitors was 520,522 in 2010 and 298,821 in 2009.
The survey, the third of its kind, shows, among the eight border points, Belihiya and Bhairahawa saw the highest inflow of visitors, accounting for 48 percent of the total Indian arrivals, while arrivals from Vittamod and Kakarvitta accounted for 14 percent and 13 percent respectively.
NTB said figures from the Rani entry point in Biratnagar were excluded because of incomplete data.
The survey reveals that 152,710 vehicles entered Nepal through the surveyed border points. The highest number of buses (8,133) as well as the highest number of cars, jeeps or vans (15,882) entered from Belihiya. The highest number of motorcycles (27,275) entered from Vittamod and Janakpur entry points.
NTB said the survey considered only those Indian nationals who traveled by vehicles bearing Indian number plates. Indian visitors who traveled Nepal in other modes of transports such as rickshaw, tanga and even foot were not included in the study.
“Only vehicles which obtained permission to enter Nepal are included in the survey,” an NTB statement said.
The figure is based on the assumption that a bus carries 32 passengers on an average, car and jeep five and motorbike one passenger.
As government statistics do not take into account Indian tourists entering Nepal by land, the objective of the survey was to estimate the number of Indian tourists visiting Nepal by surface transport.
Following is the entry point-wise break-up of tourists and vehicles: Bhairahawa (353,297 tourists / 37,646 vehicles); Vittamod (103,947/36,937); Kakarvitta (93,654/27,032); Birgunj (84,371/25,073); Nepalgunj (44,720/10,289); Mahendranagar (33,841/10,980); Dhangadhi (19,337/4,753) Biratnagar (8,386/2,498 in four months).