Tapping the potential of Chinese tourists

Published On: May 30, 2024 07:35 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Since Nepal is a landlocked country, its scenic hills, mountains, and fountains are natural gifts. From Mount Everest to Machhapuchhre, from Shey Phoksundo to Rara, and from Lumbini to Pokhara, Nepal boasts of numerous natural heritages. In this sense, there is no doubt that Nepal is attractive from a tourist point of view. The unimaginable change of weather within hours, the customs and culture of hundreds of ethnic groups, and the notion that ‘temples of gods and goddesses outnumber the population’ are enough to attract tourists here. Unfortunately, Nepal is failing to fully exploit this abundant potential. The recent complaints by Pokhara's tourism entrepreneurs confirm that we are missing such opportunities. The number of tourists should increase annually due to population growth in our immediate neighbors, changes in income and an increasing taste for travel, but this general trend has not applied to the tourist areas of Pokhara. It is natural for tourism entrepreneurs to worry about this situation, which affects not only Pokhara but the entire country.

Nepal is fortunate to be situated near China to the north and India in the remaining three directions, both of which are rapidly developing. The population of these countries exceeds one billion each. Economically, these countries are advancing quickly. With the increase in economic activity, the number of nomadic travelers has also risen. These are two countries where millions of people travel the world every day, significantly contributing to the global tourism industry. Nepal is the closest country to them geographically. Its prodigious attractions have the power to captivate the world, with major sites that can be visited and seen in a few days. However, the number of tourists coming from these two countries is not as high as expected. Specifically, Chinese nationals, from a country projected to become the world's largest economy in a few years, hesitate when asked to visit Nepal, despite its status as the land of Buddhism. Their visit numbers have not been significant. This situation has concerned the tourism professionals of Pokhara.

Tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara have identified the reason for this shortfall. The Chinese have to pay the same fare to fly to Nepal as they do to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is no wonder that tourists are not attracted to Nepal when they can visit these other countries for around Rs 100,000, the cost of a plane ticket to Nepal alone. Even more surprising, after arriving in Kathmandu, it costs much more to travel to Pokhara than it does for Nepalese citizens. Consequently, expensive travel does not attract them to Nepal. This calls for all stakeholders to take a number of measures to attract tourists. Since this sector is associated with hospitality, every activity is crucial. From the way a guide speaks to even the faint smile of a hotel receptionist, everything makes a huge difference. Therefore, the happier the tourists are, the more their numbers will increase. It is equally important to make travel easy, convenient, less expensive and of better quality. For this, Nepal should reconsider airfare policies targeting Chinese tourists.

Many people view the tourism business as profitable for only a few individuals. In reality, it is a large area of employment and an important industry for introducing the country to the world. It is also a means of strengthening the country's economy. These aspects should be considered, and packages should be created to attract tourists, especially Chinese tourists. Such tourists should be encouraged to visit famous places like Pokhara and Lumbini. It should be remembered that if even one percent of high-end tourists from China and India visit Nepal, this would mean more than two million high-level tourists. If we can create such a situation, we won't have to worry about the number of tourists visiting Nepal.


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