Nepal second peaceful nation in South Asia

Nepal has found the second spot after Bhutan as the most peaceful country in South Asia in the latest Global Peace Index (GPI).

The study, conducted by the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has ranked Nepal in the 80th place after Bhutan among the 158 nations it took into account.

While India figures much behind, in the 142nd position, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been ranked 103rd, 91st and 149th among the countries respectively.

The GPI, released late on Tuesday, shows Bhutan tops in South Asia with the 19th position, while China has slid in the peace index, standing 89th as against the 80th position last year.

According to the report, deaths related to internal conflict, displaced people, weapons export, heavy weapons, armed service personnel, death from external conflict, weapon imports and jailed population have declined in Nepal.

It also claimed that the world was more peaceful in 2011 as powerful nations had austerity-driven defence cuts.

The Asia Pacific region is the fourth most peaceful region in the world as its overall GPI score improved remarkably last year.

The survey studied 23 indicators across 158 countries, ranging from measures of civil unrest and crime to military spending, involvement in armed conflict and relations with neighbors. Aside from the deterioration in the Middle East, every other region in the world showed at least some improvement.

In Asia, despite worries over a growing arms race and geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States, the overall defense spending appeared roughly flat and conflict slightly down.
Source: The Kathmandu Post

Tourists' length of stay in Nepal reaches 13 days

KATHMANDU - 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 Sunday.

According to the Tourism Ministry, visitors 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 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.