Chinese are coming

  • Nepal needs to learn from global initiatives to lure Chinese tourists

Apr 23, 2015-

About a week ago, a Tibetan couple posted their pre-wedding pictures on the internet, as is commonly done in China. The couple, in some of the pictures, is dressed in traditional Tibetan robes and seen prostrating in front of a temple or feeding poultry against the backdrop of a pastoral village. Other shots show them having coffee at Starbucks and walking in front of glass buildings in sharp-cut suits. These pictures have taken the Chinese internet by storm, given photogenic appearances of the couple and a portrayal of the aspirations of China’s ethnic minorities. Nepalis, however, need not log on to the internet to get a glimpse of such pre-wedding photo sessions of the Chinese. Of late, they have become frequent sights in the durbar squares of the Kathmandu Valley. Chinese tourists dressed in white wedding gowns against the backdrop of artistic buildings are frequently featured in Nepali newspapers. Young Chinese tourists roaming the streets with their selfie sticks and colourful trousers are no less common.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the Chinese accounted for 12 percent (113,173) of all tourists who visited Nepal in 2013, up from 77,861 in 2012. Second only to India, the northern neighbour is Nepal’s largest source of tourists. Most Chinese tourists visit Nepal to celebrate holidays (78,111), followed by those who wish to trek and hike (5,388). On average, a Chinese traveller stays in Nepal for nine days. These figures are bound to rise as the Nepali government recently granted permission to Sichaun Airways to operate daily flights from Chengdu via Lhasa to Kathmandu. It is the fourth Chinese airlines to be granted permission to fly into Nepal, in addition to Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern.

The surge in Chinese tourists, however, is not limited to Nepal. According to the World Tourism Organisation, China is set to generate 100 million arrivals worldwide before 2020. Top destinations are already catering to their needs. American museums, for instance, are including audio tours and maps in Mandarin, accepting Union Pay, a Chinese credit card, and actively engaging in promotion on the Chinese social media platform, Sina Weibo. The Japanese too are making their neighbours feel at home by making tourist maps and brochures of all major tourist

destinations available in Chinese.

If Nepal is to sustain this flow of Chinese tourists, it should learn from such initiatives. While the number of Chinese restaurants in Kathmandu’s Jyatha and  Pokhara’s Lakeside have increased in the past few years, it is not enough. Making information on travel destinations available in Mandarin is equally important. Starting bus services between select cities of the two countries could also help bring in more travellers. Meanwhile, Nepal Airlines should also consider resuming flights to China. Tourism entrepreneurs need to step up and aggressively promote Nepal as a trekking destination. For, in addition to lengthening the duration of their stay, the mountains provide a picturesque background for bridal photo shoots. 

Published: 24-04-2015 10:14

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