KATHMANDU (Xinhua) – Nepalese tourism stakeholders on Wednesday stressed on making air travel between Nepal and China cheaper to promote bilateral tourism, arguing that air transport between the two neighbors is one of the most expensive in the world.
They said at an interaction on the theme of Silk Road Tourism between Nepal and China, organized by China National Tourist Office and Nepal-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCCI) that potential growth of Chinese tourists to Nepal has been hindered by higher airfare and relatively low air connectivity.
China is the Nepal’s second largest source market for tourists after India since 2010. Nepal welcomed 104,005 Chinese tourists in 2016 as arrivals surged by 55.26 percent on a year-on-year basis after disastrous 2015 due to deadly earthquake and subsequent blockade in southern border points of Nepal, according to the data of Department of Immigration of Nepal.
NCCCI President Rajesh Kaji Shrestha said that air ticket for Kathmandu-Guangzhou is more expensive than traveling through the Kathmandu-Bangkok-Guangzhou. “Travelling Kathmandu to Kunming is costlier than India’s Kolkata’s to Kunming. Price must be competitive to attract more Chinese tourists to Nepal,” he said.
Currently, four Chinese airlines — China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airline and Air China are serving Kathmandu to Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Lhasa respectively.
Shrestha said that there should be direct air connectivity between Kathmandu and Beijing, Shanghai to attract more Chinese tourists. Nepal’s national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation is also serving Kathmandu-Hong Kong route currently and also has the plan to reach Chinese mainland.
Sunil Sharma, officiating director of Nepal Tourism Board, the main tourism promotion body of Nepal, said that the board has been consistently promoting Nepal’s tourism in China but travel cost has been hindering the potential of Chinese tourist arrivals to Nepal.
Nepalese stakeholders also asked China to ease travel for tourist through land route too, particularly through bordering Geelong port which is currently only international trade route between the two countries.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said that China was promoting Nepal’s tourism under the Year of Tourism for Nepal 2017 in line with the joint statement signed in 2016.