Hong Kong [China], Feb.25 (ANI): China, it seems is emerging as one of the most important source countries for Nepal's critical tourism industry, accounting for 7.5 per cent of its gross domestic product.
"This year, we expect about 160,000 to 170,000 from India, and China to narrow the gap substantially by going up to 130,000 to 135,000. While Indians are travelling further afield, Nepal is still a new destination for the Chinese," Joshi was quoted, as saying.
Now with China-friendly Communist leader K.P. Sharma Oli being Nepal's Prime Minister, observers and analysts are of the view that he may lean more towards Beijing than New Delhi to ensure an economic balancing act.
Economically, China has already begun establishing a major presence in Nepal, building airports in the popular holiday town of Pokhara, a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit trekking trail and Lumbini, where Lord Buddha is said to have been born.
Currently, five Chinese carriers - Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines-operate flights to Nepal. Once cross-border land traffic picks up, Chinese tourist numbers are expected to grow exponentially.
Prime Minister Oli recently told "This Week in Asia" in an interview that Nepal is interested in having railway connectivity to China. China is already working to extend it to Chinese city Shigatse and then Kyirong in Tibet, which is about 75 kilometers from Kathmandu.
Nepal is understood to be building a road tunnel between the border town of Rasuwagadhi, 25 kilometers from Kyirong and Kathmandu to shorten travel time between the Chinese border and Kathmandu.