Nepali Times
Life Times
The Chinese are coming


INSIDE LOOKING OUT: A woman in Bhaktapur gives directions to a group of Chinese tourists sight-seeing in the historic town last week. There has been a surge of tourists from China this summer.

With rising affluence, Chinese are flying out on holidays in ever greater numbers with a spurt in arrivals in Nepal in the past year.

After roaming countries in the region with big overseas Chinese communities like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand Chinese tourists are opting for adventure destinations like Nepal.

Indeed, in July alone the number of Chinese tourists coming to Nepal by air has more than doubled to 3,306 compared to the same month last year. This number does not include Chinese who traveled overland via Tibet. If this trend continues, the Chinese could overtake Americans as the second largest source of visitors after India.

"We are really encouraged by the increase of mainland China travelers, especially because they come in the July-August lean season and this evens out arrivals throughout the year," says Prachanda Man Shrestha of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The Chinese seem to be attracted by the exotic Himalaya, Nepal's Hindu and Buddhist culture, its proximity and the increase in the number of flights.

"The fast rising numbers of Chinese visitors have filled up the tourist vacuum during the monsoon off season," says Suman Pandey of Explore Himalaya Tour and Advernture.

Chinese tourists can be seen on Sarangkot for the sunrise view, dining in Thamel, packing the Mt Everest sightseeing flights and moving in groups in Bhaktapur Darbar Square.

"What attracts me most is the unique culture and religious practices," Zhang Liusha from Chengdu told us at Basantapur this week. "People here are so friendly, Nepalis on the streets even greet us in Chinese."

Zhang shows a necklace that she says she wanted to purchase from a sidewalk vendor, but after chatting with her for a while the shop owner gave it to her as a present. "Where else in the world does that happen?" asked Zhang, who intends to stay in Nepal for ten more days.

Zhou Lou from Chongqing is encouraged by how easy it was to get to Nepal. "I got my visa in Lhasa and it was all very smooth," she said.

Unlike western backpackers who come to Nepal mainly for trekking, Chinese tourists are more inclined to cultural activities and soft adventures. Material comfort lists high in their consideration, and they are put off by Kathmandu's daunting traffic and pollution. And although there are more flights, flights to Nepal from China are very expensive, sometimes it is cheaper to fly to Europe.

The NTB's Shrestha says the only solution is a strong national airline to tap the huge Chinese tourism potential. "Sadly, the priority for the government now is a stable constitution, rather than stable economic growth." Still, NTB is planning to open an office in Beijing and Shanghai, and Shrestha says extending the Qinghai-Tibet railway to the Nepal border would boost Chinese tourism even more.

Air China's Nepal manager, Wu Yong Qiang, is also enthusiastic about the growth in air traffic. From less than 3 flights a week in 2008, Air China, China southern and China Eastern now operate almost daily flights to Chinese destinations like Kunming, Lhasa, Guangzhou and Chengdu from Kathmandu. He says: "There is a big rush during Chinese New Year and the Golden Week period, tickets have to be booked way in advance."

1. DG
Throw your net nearby and catch something. Don.t throw your net too far and miss catching  all the fish.This should be the motto in tourism promotion.
India and China are our next door neighbour. Concentrate in these two countries first and foremost. Then comes the rest.
Abolish visa for tourists for three months from the visitors from the Peoples Republic of China . Indians don,t need them.
Allow free access to the car drivers fom these countries ,specially from India who can come during the weekends.
 Install photo cameras on the transit points like Sunaouli or Jogbani. Let not ythe custom and police bother the visitors. CCTVs are better than these people, no one can bribe these instruments as record for future investigation if needed at all.
Improve the access roads for two way comings  and the boarder crossing points.

2. Prakash
Fully agree with DG comment above. Nepal has easy for tourist and make it more accessible by allowing vehicles to ply freely and let the CCTV capture all and make roads better, make city clean, introduce latest mass transportation in kathmandu and reduce traffic in Kathmandu by encouraging public transportation. Its a lovely Country and any one visiting will cherish if no pollution, managed traffic, hospitable people, good restaurants, good shopping places and the list goes on....cheers

3. chandra baral
I agree. The good-for-nothing weirdos in Tourism Board love to travel to Europe and America, and spend money there in the name of tourism promotion. Here is the right motto:

1. first try to attract qualified Nepali/Indians and Chinese in which ever town one is aiming to promote. Indians go to Manakamana temple because Nepali go there. Foreigners eat momo because Nepali eat it. Foreigners go to Huang Shan or Shaolin temples in China because Chinese love to go there.

2. Then spend money bombarding ads in China and India. 

Europeans/Americans aae pani thikai chha, na aae pani thikai chha. kati nai po aauchhan ra.

4. B2B
For the developed world July and August are the downtime season when folks go for vacations mainly on seasides where time is sunny.

A country like Nepal has many natural things which are quite agreeable to see because they ain't available in Europe or in the US and Canada, and by extension New Zealand and  Australia. So why they prefer to take time and search an appropriate time such as autumn and spring to visit Nepal.

If not what I've noticed so far being in Paris that folks visit a country because it has beautiful and historic monuments, activities to lure those who just take a halt en route to their final destinations.

To be true, the most visited country like France ( approx. 80 million per year) where Paris alone attracts approx. 15 million tourists, French prepare themselves to welcome tourists either in high Alpine mountains, countryside by opening different type of huts, even they go up to making Red Indian tipis and Mongolian yurts etc. As Disneyland Park is there in the suburbs of Paris folks throng in there specially from entire Europe but also from the rest of the world Africa included.

At present I see the swarm of Chinese tourists who come here for wedding in mass of 30 to 50 couples in a medieval chateau. And every month a new Oriental palace with the investment of Hong Kong and China's tycoons are getting opened where for one night stay one pays not less than 35,000 euros! (FYI, 1 = say 80 to 90 NRs).

For all these apparent reasons Nepal should think of catching the big fish who have money and time for travel. A good advertisement amongst the upper class tour leaders' junkets in London will be more profitable than any other means. Only a place like Mumbai where people have hunk of dough but they can't take an easy flight to Pokhara or somewhere where they can have all facilities for a short weekend. These days Dubai is one of the most glamorous places where mostly the Indian Bollywood actors and filmi folks pay visit to relax for a short period.

Nepalese Tourist Department must think it over to attract more Asian tourists and then the tourists from the rest of the world.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)