The government has decided to waive off visa fee for Chinese nationals with the objective of bringing more tourists from the northern neighbor to Nepal.
The decision will come into effect from January, 2016.
Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) said that the idea floated by his ministry have been accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA).
Speaking at a press meet in Beijing on Friday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa announced that Chinese national will not have to pay any visa fee to visit Nepal.
Country’s tourism fraternity, which had long been demanding with the government to provide free visa to all foreign tourists for a year, has welcomed the decision. The decision is expected to help in faster recovery of tourism industry hit hard by the earthquake and Indian blockade.
Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of NTB, said that his organization will organize business to business (B2B) meetings, consumer focused promotional programs (B2C), and government to government programs to regain the Chinese market. “We will promote Nepal’s vivid and varied tourism attractions and activities through new and social media channels too,” Joshi said, adding that the initiative taken by the government will be of immense help to bring in more Chinese tourists.
Tourism entrepreneurs also said that the visa waiver facility will also help in trade promotion between the two countries. Many Chinese tourists have been operating hotels and restaurants as well as other businesses in Kathmandu and tourist city of Pokhara.
“The decision will help to bring more Chinese tourists to Nepal. If we managed to welcome only a fraction of Chinese outbound visitors to travel to Nepal, it will be a big thing for Nepali tourism industry,” said Chandra Prasad Rijal, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).
According to statistics of MoCTCA, the number of Chinese tourist reached 123,805 in 2014 from 7,562 in 2003. Chinese tourists comprised of 15.7 percent of total tourist arrivals of Nepal in 2014. Nepal had welcomed 790,118 foreign tourists in 2014.
China’s tourists are still traveling different countries with open wallets despite an economic slowdown, the deprecation of Yuan and turmoil in stock markets, according to The Wall Street Journal. “According to a recent report from consultancies Fung Business Intelligence Centre and China Luxury Advisors, China’s outbound traveler numbers are still growing and are poised to double by 2020 to 234 million passengers, from more than 100 million last year,” the newspaper writes.
Vinayak Shah, general secretary of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), welcomed the decision and underlined the need to disseminate it in the Chinese market through effective medium. “At times many good decisions are made it does not have much impact due to lack of promotion. Hence, we should promote it aggressively with the help of diplomatic missions,” said Shah.
Similarly, Mihika Dhakwa, general secretary of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) expressed confidence that Chinese will definitely welcome the decision as this shows Nepal is giving priority to the Chinese market. “We are working together with China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) for training and understanding the Chinese market. NATTA, as COTRI country partner, will work on training, research and promotion etc,” she added.
Nepal also signed a 300 million RMB deal with China to carry out feasibility study for construction of International Buddhist Culture Center in Sanchok Danda of Ugrachandi VDC in Kavre.
“We will complete feasibility study within six months and begin construction within a year. The center will have spiritual center, museum, and meditation center, among others. We are hopeful that it will help to bring Buddhist tourists from different countries to Nepal,” Secretary Thapaliya said.