KATHMANDU, DEC 26 - The government plans to simplify visa procedures for Chinese tourists in a bid to increase arrivals from the northern neighbour.
According to Tourism Ministry officials, a study team formed to recommend ways to ease visa procedures has submitted its report to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Home and Foreign ministries for further discussion.
The team, led by joint secretary Mohan Krishna Sapkota at the Industry Division of the Tourism Ministry, has recommended establishing diplomatic missions in different parts of China for the convenience of prospective Chinese visitors to Nepal. Similarly, the report has proposed appointing agents or Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) in major Chinese cities. The VFS, an outsourced partner to facilitate visa applications, is in operation in a number of countries.
The report has also presented the option of a free-visa regime. “But we have not given priority to it,” Sapkota said. At present, only visitors from SAARC countries get visas free of cost. Foreign visitors have to pay US$ 25 for a 15-day visa and US$ 40 for a 30-day visa.
According to Home Ministry sources, one round of discussions have been held and the ministry is planning to call another meeting. “Currently, we are discussing the modality and also studying ways to simplify the visa and employ outsourcing agents as is done in other countries,” said Home Ministry officials. The PMO has recently directed the concerned ministry to implement the report.
Meanwhile, Chinese arrivals to Nepal via air amounted to 48,379, up 20.2 percent, in the first 11 months of 2012. Chinese tourists have taken a great leap forward to reach 75,517 (45,400 by air and 30,117 overland) in 2011.
Nepal received just over 8,000 Chinese tourists in 2001 when China announced that Nepal had been listed as an outbound travel destination for Chinese travellers.
Annual tourist arrivals from China stood at 46,000 in 2010. They crossed the 46,000 mark in 2010, a five-fold jump from 2001, attesting to the growing popularity of the Himalayan country among Chinese vacationers. The northern neighbour has now emerged as the second largest source market after India for Nepal.
Although, the Chinese government had permitted Approved Destination Status (ADS) for Chinese outbound in November 2001, the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Nepal was nominal. Nepal participated in the China International Travel Fair for the first time in 2000 to promote Nepal’s tourism.
Nepal and China signed an initial memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an implementation plan for outbound travel by Chinese to Nepal in April 16, 2001 preparing the path for ADS. In 2002, ADS was granted by the China National Tourism Administration; and in June 2002, Chinese citizens went to Nepal officially for the first time as tourists. Before 2000, Chinese were allowed to travel to Nepal only on official visits.
Posted on: 2012-12-27 09:27