KATHMANDU, Jan 26: In what appears to be a major setback for the country which is celebrating the ‘Visit Nepal Year 2020’, the arrival of Chinese tourists in groups is likely to come to a halt from Monday.
According to the state broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Tourism Association has decided to halt all outbound tourist groups from Monday.
The travel limitation imposed on outbound Chinese tourists by the industry association in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus in China is likely to have a damning impact on Nepal’s tourism sector.
With this decision on travel limitation, travel agencies which are members of the Chinese industry association will suspend booking hotels and plane tickets for their clients and stop sending tourists in groups to foreign countries.
As China is the second biggest tourist source market for Nepal, the travel limitation will also hit the Nepali tourism sector that is expecting to welcome two million international tourists in 2020 in line with the VNY2020 target. This travel restriction also comes at a time when Chinese tourists flow typically remains high during the Chinese New Year.
Nepali tour operators have already been receiving hotel booking cancellations even before the travel limitation. The official decision is going to sharply decelerate the Chinese tourist arrivals at least until the virus comes under control.
Hari Rijal, manager of Nepal Big Mountain Travels Pvt Ltd, told Republica that they have received cancellation of 14 Chinese groups with nearly 300 tourists after the outbreak of the deadly virus.
“Booking are being cancelled almost every day. The new travel limitation has further dashed our hopes of welcoming Chinese tourists in the country,” said Rijal.
Another leading tour operator who handles mostly Chinese tourists, Kalyan Sharma of Adventure Outdoor Excursion Pvt Ltd, said that almost 50 percent of the bookings from China have been cancelled in recent days.
“It’s a precaution taken by the Chinese side to make sure that other countries do not have to suffer from the virus. The safety measure should be taken positively,” said Sharma. “Like other countries, Nepal will observe a slump in the arrival of Chinese tourists,” he added.
China stood second in the list of countries with highest tourist arrivals in 2019. According to the data of the Department of Immigration, a total of 169,543 Chinese tourists came to Nepal in 2019 out of nearly 1.2 million international tourists.