Nepal-China tourism cooperation expected to flourish

By Ritu Raj Subedi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 13, 2020
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Tourists visit Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lalitpur, Nepal, Oct. 23, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

As the "Visit Nepal 2020" campaign kicked off at the beginning of the new year amidst much public fanfare and enthusiasm, there is high anticipation for an influx of Chinese tourists to Nepal.

Nepal has set a target of attracting 2 million foreign tourists in 2020, an ambitious increase from 1.17 million visits in 2018. With its slogan of "Lifetime Experience," the "Visit Nepal 2020" campaign will significantly help in making tourism a key component of the national economy which has suffered decades of instability, violent conflict and devastation from the 2015 earthquake. 

Thanks to cooperation between Nepal and China in such sectors as trade, investment and culture, more and more Chinese tourists have visited the Himalayan country in recent years to experience its snow-capped mountains, history and cultural heritage, as well as for shopping and trekking. According to the tourism authorities in Nepal, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal in 2018 surpassed 150,000, a rise of 46.8% compared to 2017, making China its second largest source of overseas tourists.

In recent years, tourism has been an important source of foreign currency for Nepal, and is poised to increase the country's GDP contribution from the current 3% to 10%. Such a rapid increase should be attributed to China's financial support to Nepal, which has assisted the latter in building infrastructure to facilitate tourism development. Chinese companies are working around the clock to construct international airports in Pokhara and Lumbini. In addition, renovation of the runway and taxiway at Tribhuvan International Airport has been completed with Chinese assistance. Himalayan Airlines, a Nepal-China joint venture, has also opened direct routes from Kathmandu to Beijing, Changsha and Guiyang, which are expected to transport over 40,000 Chinese passengers a year to Nepal.

In 2016, Forbes reported that Nepal has the potential to flourish as a destination for several Chinese outbound market segments. It also placed Nepal in its top-10 list of travel destinations for the coming decade as visitors can enjoy the most once-in-a-lifetime experiences due to its various wonders. 

A record number of Chinese tourists are expected to visit Nepal in 2020, as both countries are set to further promote economic ties and personnel exchanges under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. With the accelerated construction of the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, more infrastructure projects including highways, railways, ports, aviation and communications will be gradually completed, laying a cornerstone for the development of tourism in Nepal and increased tourism cooperation between Nepal and China. These developments are allowing more and more tourists from China and around the world to appreciate the beauty of this Himalayan country.

Ritu Raj Subedi is the Deputy Executive Editor of The Rising Nepal.

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