Nepal has targeted northern neighbor China as a second largest significant market for its tourism industry after southern neighbor India.
Nepal has projected China as its second largest market, at the time when country has launched a national tourism campaign “Nepal Tourism Year-2011 (NTY)” to attract more than one million tourists in an international level.
Officials at Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) said that they have outlined India and China a significant market due to their booming economy and closeness with Nepal.
At the time Nepal is preparing to greet one million international tourists in the country, it is also mulling plans to allure 101,324 Chinese outbound tourists whereas it has estimated to welcome 262,588 tourists from India in the year 2011.
When asked, based on which factor NTB projected to greet more than double number of tourists within a year, Kashi Raj Bhandari pointed out at growing economy possessed by China and living standard of Chinese people.
“Owing to increasing trend of Chinese tourist arrivals, we sense that there is a great potentiality for Nepal to lure more Chinese outbound tourists in coming years,” Bhandari, Director of Research, Planning and Monitoring desk at NTB told Xinhua on Tuesday.
“In context of China, Nepal began its work from zero and the consequence is that at present China has become second largest tourist market for Nepal after India,” he added.
Chinese outbound tourists began to visit Nepal when Nepal was commended as an Approved Destination Status by National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China. Nepal and China both side inked the Memorandum of Understanding on implementation plan for outbound travel by Chinese citizens to Nepal on April 16, 2001.
According to Bhandari, at present, more than 35,000 Chinese tourists visit Nepal annually, if country pays a little more attention to the strategic plan, then the number could be 100,000 within a year,” he added.
Comparing with Western and European tourist market, he said, ” These markets are saturated whereas Chinese market is in upward trend which gives positive glimpse of escalating market in future. “
Nevetheless, greeting 101,324 Chinese tourists within a year is not an easy task for Nepal. The main hurdles to this counts accessibility, capability and promotion.
Though, targeted number of Chinese tourist may wish to visit Nepal there are only four international airlines-China Southern, China Eastern, Air China and Dragon Air, operating their flight connection to Nepal with Chinese cities.
Not only Chinese tourists but also estimated one million tourist arrivals will be hard to manage if the country failed to pre-arrange strategy. Out of one million tourists, Nepal has set to receive 700,000 by air whereas 300,000 from land.
According to Yogendra Shakya, national coordinator of NTY working committee, the committee is working on calculating whether these aforesaid airlines are capable to meet target of one million tourists or not?
Focused on Chinese market he said, “We are thinking of launching promotional activities to only those cities where there is direct air connectivity. First, we will find out our capability and then only move ahead for promotional activities in China,” he added.
The possibility of disseminating advertisements relevant to NTY in local Chinese media is high.
Meanwhile, Bhola Bikram Thapa, coordinator of airlines and air connectivity for NTY informed that at present based on 35,000 Chinese tourist arrivals, around 91 Chinese people per aircraft land in Nepal. However, these airlines hold maximum capacity of carrying 60,000 people in Nepal in a year.
“But carrying 101,324 number of customers at current strength is almost impossible,” said Thapa, adding that to meet target number of tourists at current strength, 274 people per day should land Nepal.
Thapa emphasized the need of promotion and homework to increase resource to meet targeted numbers of tourists without hassle.
According to experts, the key hurdle regarding Chinese tourists is air connectivity. “All the airlines operating to connect Chinese cities with Nepal are Chinese private airlines. If our own airline Nepal Airline will resume direct flight from Nepal to China we can transport more people.” NTB official said.
Nepal Airlines used to operate direct air flight from Kathmandu to Shanghai but halted its operation due to technical reasons some seven years ago.
Although, Nepal-China friendly relationship are reiterated time and again from both countries but they have failed to realize there is no connection between their capital cities.
If Nepali capital Kathmandu and China’s capital Beijing were connected with direct air flights then coordination between two countries will flourish further not only for tourism but also for trade.