The average length of stay of tourists in Nepal increased to a seven-year high of 13.1 days in 2011 and travel trade analysts have attributed the growth to a decline in strikes and increased tourist arrivals for trekking and mountaineering, local press reported.

According to the Tourism Ministry, visitors taking flights to Nepal and coming for trekking and mountaineering in 2011 increased 11.7 percent against a decline of 47.2 percent in 2010. Nepal recorded the highest ever length of stay of 13.51 days in 2004.

Travel trade analysts attribute this growth to fewer strikes during Nepal Tourism Year 2011 when visitors were allowed to travel to all parts of the country.

“More tourists visiting places outside the Kathmandu valley has increased the length of stay”, Suman Pandey, president of Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure, was quoted by The Kathmandu Post as saying.

In the past, regular strikes hit the length of stay of visitors, and tour operators offered three-night, four-day packages in capital Kathmandu. However, a decline in bandas and strikes since 2010 has encouraged tour operators to offer eight-day tour programs.

Apart from leisure activities, the popular trekking routes of Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Qomolangma and Langtang are the major contributors to increasing the length of stay of tourists. On average, a trekker spends 12 days on each of these three routes. Similarly, mountaineers spend one month on expeditions to peaks below 7,000 meters while they spend two months on Qomolangma expeditions.

Travel trade entrepreneurs said Chinese and Indians take flights to Nepal and come for recreation while Europeans and Americans love adventure. However, the increment in tourist stay has not resulted in a rise in their daily spending. According to the ministry, average spending by tourists dropped to $39.90 last year against 43.20 dollars in 2010.

Tourist spending in 2011 was the lowest since 2001. In 2001, the average spending from each tourist stood at 39.60 dollars per day.