When immigration officials at Dubai or Kuala Lumpur airports saw a green Nepali passport they automatically used to look for the work permit. But with the number of outbound Nepali tourists on the rise, they now turn the pages for tourist visas.
Kathmandu airport is busy these days: the arrival concourse is packed with Nepali migrant workers who have started returning home for holidays, and across the hall there are throngs of Nepali families flying out for foreign vacations.
It is not just individuals and families taking flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Bali or the UAE, Nepali companies are also offering employees subsidised Dasain-Tihar holidays as an incentive.
One of many such groups this week is a Kathmandu company taking its 104 employees, divided in two groups, for a five nights and six days retreat to Vietnam.
“The vacation season has just started and we are pretty busy,” syas Banney Shrestha of Natraj Tours and Travels, which recently organised that tour, and a trip for 125 Nepali employees of a health care company in Bangkok.
Many travel agents, which used to specialise in organising sight-seeing and trekking for inbound foreign tourists in Nepal, now say more than half their business is from Nepalis spending holidays abroad, and the volume is growing. Many travel agencies reported up to 15% growth in outbound passengers from last year, while 50-year-old Natraj saw 30% growth.
Read also: Global Dasain
This Dasain, vegetate, Sonia Awale