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Terror attacks in U.S. impact Nepal's tourism industry.

KATHMANDU, Oct. 4 Kyodo

The downturn in global tourism triggered by the devastating terror attacks in the United States has impacted tourist arrivals in Nepal, a senior Nepalese tourism official said Thursday.

''The period following the terror attacks recorded a sharp decline. There were plenty of cancellations of previously booked tours,'' Pradeep Raj Pandey, executive director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told Kyodo News.

The number of Japanese traveling abroad plunged following the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, leading to a 45% decline in arrivals of Japanese visitors in Nepal, he said.

''An upward swing may be imminent now that the airlines flying to Nepal have reported that they are fully booked for October-November,'' Pandey said.

Tourism contributes 20% to Nepal's foreign exchange earnings and 5% to its gross domestic product.

According to figures released by the board on Wednesday, overall tourist arrivals fell by 24,390 in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period the previous year.

Arrivals from India dropped by 26.40% while arrivals by air from other countries fell 3.15%.

The Hotel Association of Nepal has asked the government to implement a relief package for the tourist industry that proposes waiving visa fees, investing in promotion, diversifying markets, lowering taxes and rescheduling loans, among other measures.

Nepal's tourism industry has been hit by a series of recent crises beginning with the 1999 Christmas Eve hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane by suspected Kashmiri militants on a flight to New Delhi from Kathmandu.

The June 1 massacre at the Nepalese royal palace in which King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya were assassinated also negatively impacted tourism.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Oct 8, 2001
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