First batch of Chinese tourists get free visas

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 8, 2016-

Nepal has formally implemented the on-arrival visa fee-free policy for Chinese tourists. 

The first batch of the Chinese mainland tourists received the free on-arrival travel visa at the Consulate General of Nepal in Lhasa in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, on January 1. 

The new policy is only applicable to tourist visas. On December 25, the government had announced the waiver of visa fee for Chinese tourists travelling to Nepal on par with the treatment offered to visitors from Saarc countries. China is Nepal’s second largest tourist source. In 2014, Nepal received 123,805 Chinese visitors.

“Chinese visitors are excited about the Nepal government’s move and we expect their numbers will rise significantly in the coming days,” said Kedar Neupane, director general of the Department of Immigration.

Chinese tourists can now enjoy visa services free of charge in the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Lhasa. Besides, according to Neupane, the government plan to set up consulates in Guangzhou and Chengdu in the near future would facilitate Chinese tourists. 

The policy will, however, affect the government revenue. Last year, the government had collected Rs250 million in visa fees from Chinese tourists. 

“Obviously, it will affect the government’s revenue but the policy will have the biggest impact on the country’s economy when arrivals from the northern neighbour will increase in a big way,” said Neupane.  

According to chinanews.com, the fee waiver policy will save up to some $102 for each Chinese tourist. Foreign visitors have to pay $25 for a 15-day visa and $40 and $100 for 30-day and 90-day visas, respectively. The Chinese government has also lifted travel advisories to its citizens travelling to Nepal that was issued by the Chinese consular service network in the context of earthquakes in Nepal. 

China had the world’s largest number of outbound tourists in 2015, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration. About 120 million Chinese travelled overseas in 2015, up from 109 million the previous year. The increase in outbound tourists is attributed to more relaxed visa policies and rising disposable incomes. 

Currently, four Chinese carriers -- Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines -- operate flights to Nepal.

The China National Tourism Administration categorised Nepal under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) for the first time in November 2001, after which Chinese citizens came to Nepal officially as tourists. Before 2000, the Chinese were allowed to travel to Nepal only on official visits.

In February 2014, Nepal and China signed a revised bilateral air services agreement (ASA), permitting the operation of 56 flights per week. 

Under the old ASA, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights every week to Nepal.

Favourite places in Nepal for the Chinese are Kathmandu, Pokhara, Jomsom and Muktinath. 

They are also shifting towards soft adventure sports like trekking, paragliding and rafting of late.

Published: 08-01-2016 08:39

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