KATHMANDU, March 11: Much to the relief of the country’s ailing tourism industry, China has included Nepal in the list of outbound destinations for its citizens in the second batch of countries for outbound travel released on Friday.
Nepal is among the 40 countries in the list of outbound destinations for its citizens released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Nepal is the third South Asian country to be included in outbound destinations for Chinese tourists.
The pilot resumption of outbound group tours and air ticket and hotel business for Chinese citizens to the countries included in the second batch of the list will be conducted by travel agencies and online tourism enterprises starting from March 15, according to the notice issued by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Earlier, China had included Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the list of outbound tourist destinations in its first batch of the 20 countries. Nepal is the only South Asian country to be included in the list of 40 countries recognized as the outbound tourist destinations for Chinese tourists.
The second batch of the outbound tourist destinations released by China include Brunei, Vietnam, Mongolia, Iran, Jordan, Tanzania, Namibia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenia, Serbia, Croatia, France, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Albania, Italy, Denmark, Portugal, Slovenia, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Panama, Dominica, El Salvador, Dominica and Bahamas are also among the countries included in the list.
Earlier on January 20, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism had announced that Chinese travel agencies and online tour operators would restart providing pilot outbound group tours. As per the ministerial decision, the Chinese travel agencies were allowed to open outbound group travel for Chinese citizens to various 20 countries including the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
The travel companies will be allowed to provide travelers with airline and hotel packages. The decision was based on factors related to COVID-19 control measures and socioeconomic growth and that it was taken at the request of the foreign affairs panel of the State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism – the country’s major COVID-19 management task force.
Nepali tour operators in Nepal had expressed worry about the fate of Nepal’s tourism after Nepal was not included in the first batch of outbound destinations for Chinese tourists. They had even written to the government and Embassy of China in Nepal to take necessary initiatives to include Nepal as one of the outbound tourist destinations for Chinese tourists.
Chairman of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Gandaki Chapter, Dharma Raj Panthi expressed happiness over the decision and thanked the Chinese government for considering their request. “This is big news for the tourism entrepreneurs in Nepal. Chinese tourists are a major source of income for tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara and elsewhere. We would be able to bring in more tourists if we can start direct flights between Pokhara and the nearest city of China,” he said.