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Border closure affects tourists

Monday, June 1st, 2015

From the Nepali Press

Karobar, 1 June

The Chinese government’s decision to close all Nepal-Tibet borders has left thousands of tourists set to leave for Kailash Mansarovar from Nepal in a lurch. Almost 25,000 tourists had made bookings through 38 Nepali tour companies to travel overland to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet.

However, Nepal Kailash Tour Association President Prakash Shrestha says no tourist has yet cancelled their bookings. Chinese authorities have cited the risk of landslides in quake-ravaged Rasuwa and Tatopani in Sindhupalchok as the reason behind the border closure. Shrestha says his association is now working to get the authorities to open the Hilsa border in Humla.

At a time when tourism has been hit hard, the arrival of 25,000 tourists will provide significant relief to tourism entrepreneurs, says Shrestha. The Association has written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Tourism and Culture, department of tourism and Nepal Tourism Board regarding the problem. “Tourists are willing to come, we need to do the necessary to remove any hassle,” says Shrestha.

Shrestha said entrepreneurs have plans to fly the tourists from Kathmandu to Surkhet on a plane and then arrange helicopters to take them to Mansarovar and are seeking coordination from the government for the same.

Indian tourists make up 80 per cent of the number going to Mansarovar from Nepal. Other tourists include Russians, Europeans and Malaysians.

Annually 40,000 tourists set on Kailash Mansarovar trip from Nepal. The season for this tour is May to July, and all tours are managed by Nepali entrepreneurs. Almost 80 per cent of the visitors spend eight to 10 days in Nepal while 20 per cent spend four to seven days.

“Twenty five thousand visitors mean employment for over 100,000 people,” says Suman Pandey.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Tourism and Culture has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the Chinese government to open the border. Chief director of Tourism department Tusli Gautam says talks are going at ministerial level to solve the issue. “Roads to Tatopani have opened, we will do everything we can to welcome 25,000 tourists in the country,” says Gautam.

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