Nepal woos Chinese tourists with free visa


A group of Chinese tourists pose for a photo at a hill station near Pokhara in this recent photo.

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.

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.

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