Nepal has announced free visas for Chinese tourists in NTY 2011. According to Tourism Minister Sarad Singh Bhandari, preparations are underway. But free visas for Chinese visitors were offered eight years ago, too. In fiscal year 2003/04, Prakash Chandra Lohani, then finance minister, announced free visas for visitors from SAARC countries and China in the budget, but the government failed to implement the changes. There's some doubt it will get around to it this time.
The number of Chinese tourists to Nepal is increasing every year. Last year about 38,000 visited Nepal. If we give them free visas, that number will go up, China could even become Nepal's biggest source of tourists. Currently most tourists to Nepal come from India, about 110,000 in 2010. But Nepal would really benefit if it provided free visas to tourists from all countries, not just SAARC countries and China.
About 590,000 tourists visited Nepal in 2010. If we waive visas for the two thirds of tourists who don't originate from SAARC countries, then we could meet the target of one million tourists for this year. According to the Tourism Ministry, the per capita expenditure of tourists during their stay in Nepal is about US$65, and the average stay is 11 days. Waiving the US$30 tourist visa fee could thus bring in US$715 per tourist encouraged to visit Nepal because of the ease of access.