Print Edition - 2014-08-26 | MONEY
Chinese arrivals reach all-time high of 113k
Aug 25, 2014-
Chinese arrivals to Nepal crossed the 100,000 mark last year reaching an all-time high of 113,173, largely due to improved air connectivity between Nepal and China, said the Tourism Ministry.
The figures released by the ministry last week showed that air arrivals jumped 55.3 percent to 62,616 and overland travellers surged 44.7 percent to 50,557. Arrivals from China in 2012 amounted to 71,861 persons. Around 93 percent of the Chinese tourists were first time visitors to Nepal. Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai had said recently that the number of Chinese tourists to Nepal would reach 250,000 within a couple of years with increased flights between the two countries and land connectivity through Rasuwa and trans-Himalayan roads.
The rapid growth in Chinese arrivals is illustrated by the recently revised air services agreement (ASA) between Nepal and China. The new ASA permits Chinese carriers to operate 56 flights weekly with any type of aircraft. Earlier, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights weekly.
At present, Air China and China Eastern operate daily scheduled flights to Nepal, while China Southern operates double daily flights. China Southern links Kathmandu and Guangzhou while China Eastern and Air China link Kathmandu with Kunming and Lhasa respectively.
Meanwhile, recently launched Himalaya Airways that plans to fly between Kathmandu and Lhasa from October 28 is also likely to increase tourist arrivals from China, said travel traders.
Nepal has witnessed a constant growth in Chinese arrivals since June 2009. Although Nepal had been given the Approved Destination Status (ADS) by the northern neighbour in 2002, the number of Chinese tourists was nominal. Nepal first participated in the China International Travel Fair in 2000 to promote Nepal’s tourism.
The two countries signed an initial memorandum of understanding on an implementation plan for outbound travel by Chinese travellers to Nepal in April 16, 2001 laying the groundwork for the ADS.
In 2002, the China National Tourism Administration granted the ADS to Nepal, and in June the same year, Chinese citizens began visiting Nepal officially for the first time as tourists.
Before 2000, Chinese visitors were allowed to travel to Nepal only on official visits. Subsequently, the central banks of the two countries signed an agreement on bilateral cooperation that allowed Chinese currency to be converted in Nepal in a bid to boost bilateral trade, tourism and economic cooperation.
During Nepal Tourism Year 2011, the government had targeted bringing 100,000 visitors from China out of the targeted 1 million tourists, but arrivals fell short of the goal.
Published: 26-08-2014 09:39