The government has decided to waive visa fee for Chinese tourists with the objective of bringing more tourists from the northern neighbor.
The decision will come into effect from the first day of New Year 2016.
Speaking at a press meet in Beijing on Friday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa announced that Chinese national will not have to pay any visa fee to visit Nepal.
The decision is expected to help in faster recovery of tourism industry hit hard by the earthquake and the Indian blockade.
Tourism entrepreneurs say visa waiver will not only lead to increased arrivals from China but also help in trade promotion between the two countries. Many Chinese tourists have been operating hotels and restaurants as well as other businesses in Kathmandu and tourist city of Pokhara.
According to tourism ministry, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal reached 123,805 in 2014 from 7,562 in 2003 when China included Nepal in its Approved Destination Status (ADS) list. Chinese tourists comprised of 15.7 percent of total tourist arrivals of Nepal in 2014.
China’s tourists are still traveling different countries with open wallets despite an economic slowdown, the deprecation of Yuan and turmoil in stock markets, according to The Wall Street Journal. “According to a recent report from consultancies Fung Business Intelligence Centre and China Luxury Advisors, China’s outbound traveler numbers are still growing and are poised to double by 2020 to 234 million passengers, from more than 100 million last year,” the newspaper writes.
TAAN HAILS THE DECISION
Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has welcomes the decision to waive off visa for Chinese nationals visiting Nepal.
Issuing a statement on Sunday, the umbrella association of trekking agencies in the country said it strongly believe that that decision will help to revive Nepali tourism industry which has been hit hard by April earthquake, Tarai unrest and Indian blockade.
“TAAN strongly believes that Nepal has adequate tourism potentials to lure large number of tourists to Nepal. Though Chinese visitors are mostly interested toward pleasure trips, cultural tours and jungle safari and paragliding, the number of Chinese tourists going on short treks is increasing in recent years. Now that the government has decided to waive off visa fee, we are hopeful that the number will increase manifold in the coming days,” it said, urging the government to reduce climbing permit fee, national parks and conservation area entry fees, and restricted area permit fee, for a certain period of time, so that foreign tourists are encouraged to visit Nepal.
TAAN has also requested the concerned government agencies, particularly the Department of Tourism, and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to publicize this decision in an aggressive manner in the Chinese market, through print, electronic and online media, so that Chinese nationals know about this goodwill gesture.
A team of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sharma Oli at the latter’s residence in Baluwatar on Thursday.
Office-bearers and executive committee members greeted PM Oli with bouquets, khadas and token of love. On the occasion, President Rijal briefed PM Oli of the activities being carried out by TAAN and its role in the development of adventure tourism in the country.
Issuing a statement, TAAN said it also handed over a 24-point memorandum to PM Oli, drawing the latter’s attention toward different problems that Nepali tourism industry, particularly the adventure tourism sector, is facing.
Among others, TAAN requested PM Oli to make necessary direction for effective implementation of new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and TAAN for effective implementation of Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). Similarly, it also urged the government to gradually open restricted areas for foreign trekkers so that locals there can get due benefits from tourism. It also requested PM Oli to take necessary initiative for lowering permit fee to Upper Dolpa and Upper Mustang to US$ 100 per person per 10 days. The delegation also urged the Prime Minister to do the needful for issuing restricted area permits from the tourism ministry itself instead of Department of Immigration.
Drawing the attention of PM Oli toward difficulties in welcoming and seeing off guests in the absence of TIA Golden Gate entry pass, the delegation urged him to introduce identification cards for tourism entrepreneurs and facilitate movement of such card holders in different tourist areas, including airports.
The delegation also requested PM Oli to take needful policy decisions to eradicate syndicate system in transportation sector and facilitate smooth movement of tourists across the country. Stating that imposition of VAT was making Nepali tourism products and services expensive compared to competing markets, the delegation suggested that the government impose a maximum of 3 percent VAT on transactions of tourism entrepreneurs.
TAAN also sought package program, including concessional loans, to revitalize tourism sector that was hit hard by the April earthquake and Indian blockade. The delegation also urged the government to deploy a team of liaison officers in one mountaineering instead of sending one liaison officer with every group. It also urged the government to deploy liaison officers only for peaks above 7,000 meters. The delegation also requested the government to reduce royalty fee of mountain peaks in Nepal after studying royalty fee in other competing markets like India and Tibet.
Among others, the delegation also urged PM Oli to take necessary initiative for barring foreign investment in trekking sector. TAAN also urged PM Oli to designate Kora La along Nepal-Tibet border as the entry point for tourists and pilgrims heading to Kailash-Mansarovar area of Tibet. Kailash pilgrimage from Nepal has been affected following closure of Tatopani entry point after the April earthquake. It also urged the government to waive off permit fee for all mountain peaks in mid and far western region till 2020. Similarly, it also requested the government to waive off all taxes and VAT for tourism enterprises based in these reasons for five years.
The delegation also urged PM Oli to provide all tourism-related service under one-door system. At present, tourism entrepreneurs have to visit different ministries for different services.
Stating that the existing provision of garbage deposit was not practical, the delegation suggested introducing non-refundable ‘Environment Conservation Fee’ instead. Similarly, the delegation requested PM to make necessary directions for easing filming in Nepal Himalayas to encourage documentary makers which will in turn help in tourism promotion. It also requested PM Oli to take necessary policy decisions for 100 percent waiver of customs duty on import of trekking equipment like satellite phone and radio sets, among others.
Other demands include inclusion of tourism education in school and college curriculum, revisiting the new provision of furnishing bank guarantee for trekking entrepreneurs, 50 percent customs duty waiver on import of vehicles for tourism enterprises, among others.
Responding to the delegation, PM Oli said he would make needful directions after studying the demands, the statement added.
Deepak Raj Joshi has been appointed as the new CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
A meeting of board of directors of the national tourism organization selected Joshi on Thursday.
A selection sub-committee led by NTB Board Member Ghanendra Shrestha had recommended Joshi as well as Gyaneshwor Mahato and Gyanendra Lal Pradhan for the post on Tuesday.
The three names were selected following interview of presentation of 12 candidates who were shortlisted four years ago.
Joshi is as a senior officer at NTB.
THe post of CEO had been lying vacant after Prachanda Man Shrestha retired from the post four years ago.