Published On: February 3, 2023 10:00 AM NPT By: Enika Rai
KATHMANDU, Feb 3: China is not only a friendly country of Nepal but also a neighboring country. China has been interested in Nepal's internal and international affairs, but China has neglected the development of tourism here, which is linked to Nepal's economic development.
The Chinese government has not included Nepal in the list of countries for its citizens (Chinese tourists) to visit. Tourism professionals are worried that Nepal is not included as an approved destination in the details of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. Even though Nepal is an excellent tourist destination, tourism businessmen have become worried after China did not include Nepal in its tourist destination lists. Tourism professionals say that the Nepali government has not been able to take diplomatic initiatives, so it has not been prioritized by China. Businessmen are now claiming that the government has failed to promote Nepal as a tourist destination.
China has stopped international travel for the past three years. Nepal has not been included in the approved destinations as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China has opened the tour from January 11.China is not only a neighboring country of Nepal but also a major source market for tourism. Bishwesh Shrestha, managing director of Shuang Qi Tours and C&K Nepal Treks, says, "Chinese tourists are the main source of the tourism sector. If Chinese tourists cannot be brought to Nepal, the revival of not only the businessmen but also the entire tourism sector of the country is not possible. Therefore, the Nepal government had to initiate bilateral discussions with the Chinese government to include Nepal in the approved destination of the Chinese government.”
Referring to the government's weakness in Nepal not being an approved destination for international visits, Director Shrestha says, "The government is only confused about whether the Pashupati area should be clean, whether the airports are clean or not, whether the toilet paper has run out." They do not pay attention to the concrete policies and plans required for tourism revival and sustainable tourism. “For the revival of tourism, we need not to build an airport, but to bring in tourists through regular international flights at existing airports.”
The Chinese government has allowed travel agencies and online travel companies to start preparations for effective advertising and promotion. Accordingly, the Chinese government has introduced a new policy to promote the revival and development of the tourism industry. In line with this, the Ministry of Tourism of China has released details of 20 countries listed as approved destinations for its citizens to visit internationally.
According to the ministry, the 20 approved destinations are Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, UAE, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.
Kalyan Raj Sharma, the owner of Adventure Outdoor Excursions, said that the tourism sector has also been affected because the government has not been able to develop infrastructure aimed at tourists. Stating that not only the construction of the international airport, but the plan to continue the flights should be expanded, he said, “After international grants, tourists are the ones who bring in foreign currency. The government has already known the pain of lack of foreign currency in Nepal, so if the tourism sector is ignored, the entire country will suffer.”
It is not possible to revive Nepal's tourism by ignoring Chinese tourists. As China is a decisive country in the promotion of Nepal's international tourism. India and China come first in terms of most international tourists coming to Nepal. If we look at the 2019 statistics of the Tourism Board, a total of 169,543 Chinese tourists came, which is 14.2 percent of the total number of tourists.
Pushkar Raj Pathak, the owner of Koili Tours, said that if Chinese tourists do not come to Nepal, the tourism sector will collapse and said, "Chinese tourists are not only a large number of tourists in the tourism sector of Nepal, but they are among the tourists who come every twelve months." Although tourists from European, American and other countries are seasonal, Chinese tourists come from January to December. The government of Nepal should seriously discuss with the government of China and prioritize the matter of including Nepal in the approved destination.
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