The Kathmandu Post, Post Report, 20th April 2017, Kathmandu
Captains of tourism have stressed the need to launch an initiative to attract a greater number of Chinese tourists as the northern neighbour is in the midst of an outbound boom.
Speaking at an interaction entitled Silk Road Tourism Between China and Nepal jointly organised by the Nepal-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCCI) and the China National Tourist Office on Wednesday, they called for expanding connectivity besides slashing air service costs between Nepal and China to promote bilateral tourism.
China since 2015 has launched Silk Road Tourism as compliance to its One Belt One Road Initiative. Through the five-year tourism plan (2016-20), China will strive to develop tourism into a major driver for economic transformation and upgrades.
Under the programme, the northern neighbour has targeted reviving the use of a historically important international trade route connecting China and the Mediterranean known as the Silk Road.
The route links China with Central Asia, West Asia, India and Europe and passes 33 historical sites, 22 of which fall in China.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said China was keen to promote tourism in Nepal. “Chinese authorities have also been contributing significantly to publicising Nepal in the Chinese market,” the Chinese envoy said.
Nepal welcomed a total of 753,002 foreign tourists in 2016. Chinese visitors accounted for the second largest arrivals after Indian tourists. Last year, Chinese arrivals jumped 55.26 percent to 104,005 persons. NCCCI President Rajesh Kaji Shrestha said the number could grow further if Nepal could cash in on the Silk Road Tourism initiative promoted by China. According to him, the Chinese government has granted Nepal ‘Approved Destination Status’ for Chinese outbound visitors.
Shrestha stressed the need to reduce airfares to promote tourism between the two countries. “The existing airlines operating between two countries have higher airfares in comparison to other destinations of similar distance,” said Shrestha, adding that ticket prices should be made competitive by offering special packages to attract more tourists.
Sunil Sharma, an officer at the Nepal Tourism Board, said they planned to allocate more funds from next year to promote Nepal in the Chinese market. Expressing concern at the fluctuating number of Chinese visitors to Nepal, Sharma said the government’s recent initiative to open consular offices in more locations in China could also help to boost Chinese arrivals in Nepal.