ILAM, Oct 25: The government is working to set up an immigration office at the Pashupatinagar checkpoint in Ilam district to allow foreign tourists to enter Nepal through the checkpoint. Local entrepreneurs said the checkpoint would hugely benefit the tourism sector in eastern Nepal.
As of now, only Kakarbhitta in Jhapa has an immigration office in the whole of eastern Nepal.
Once the office is established, many foreign tourists visiting Darjeeling in India are also likely to cross over to Nepal via Pashupatinagar as the distance between the two places is just around 30 kilometers.
The government decided to set up an immigration office in Pashupatinagar just a month ago.
According to Suryodaya Municipality, necessary physical infrastructure for the office have already been readied. A building at Pashupatinagar which was built for operating a Tourist Information Center would be used as the office building, informed the municipality.
Tourists entering Nepal via Pashupatinagar would not only visit Ilam but are also likely to travel as far as Jhapa, Panhcthar, Taplejung, Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha, Dhankuta and Bhojpur.
Although Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung districts share borders with India, none of these districts have immigration offices.
Locals had been demanding an immigration office at Pashupatinagar for years. “We requested the government for years to set up an immigration office at Pashupatinagar. Now they have finally heeded the request. This will benefit the entire eastern region,” said Milan Chhetri, a local entrepreneur.
Travel agencies based in India’s Darjeeling, Mirik and Siliguri have been bringing Indian tourists to the Pashupatinagar market for short visits. According to Pramod Rai, chairman of Suryodaya Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the tourists would return from Pashupatinagar in lack of entry permit to Nepal.
“Once an immigration office is set up, such tourists will visit Nepal and this will boost local tourism and economy,” said Rai.
Ilam’s Chief District Officer Shrawam Kumar Timsina said preparations to set up the office are in the final stages. “The office will come into operation within a few days,” he informed.