A group of Chinese visitors at Fewa Lake in Pokhara.
POKHARA, August 20: Chinese love for Nepal was at the peak when the devastating earthquake hit the country in 2015, which subsequently put a halt to their flow. It took pretty long time for the tourism sector to recover from the setback.
According to tourism entrepreneurs, many had then dropped their businesses related to tourism. Over the time, Chinese tourists started making a comeback. Several hotels and restaurants in Pokhara and elsewhere started to focus on the new guests.
After Indians, it was Chinese who would find Nepal visit attractive both due to money and proximity. However, the flow of Chinese tourists did not grow as expected. Poor road networks are to blame for it.
“It's very cheap for Chinese to come to and stay in Nepal. Very little money and time are enough,” notes Shi Miao, who is in Nepal visit under a program sponsored jointly by Nepal Tourism Board, Nepali embassy in China and Tourism Ministry of China.
“However, the sad part is that the route to Nepal is so difficult in itself. It is full of hassles due to poor condition roads. If they try it by air, the cost shoots up,” she added.
Had the roadways in Nepal been smooth, there would have been a significant entry of Chinese tourists, she assumes. According to her, Nepal is actually popular among youths of China and they would love to see it.
“I believe that Chinese students would easily plan the trip if it was not through airways,” she noted. “It is so near to China geographically. But we have not been able to encourage them to come. They are not happy with the roads,” she added.
Twenty Chinese tourists including Miao are in Pokhara for the sponsored visit. They say that photography in Nepal is the main attraction for them. The culture and nature thrill them, they state. “There are lots of things to woo Chinese tourists.
Culture and scenic beauty hold them here. And similarly, many come here also for adventure sports,” she stated.
Miao further said that Nepal is actually losing Chinese tourists to Thailand, Vietnam and so on. Despite loving to come to Nepal, they are turned elsewhere due to poor roads, she said.
As per the data of Nepal Tourism Board, Chinese tourists are growing every year. However, it is simply not that high as expected, according to the stakeholders.
“The graph shows that they are growing every year. But the number is still very less than expected. We can actually draw a far bigger number of Chinese tourists to Nepal if we improve few things,” said Surya Thapaliya, senior officer at Tourism Board, Pokhara.
He suggested for proper roadways through China - Nepal border.