Hong Kong [topic/china">China], Feb.25 (ANI): topic/china">China, it seems is emerging as one of the most important source countries for topic/nepal">Nepal's critical tourism industry, accounting for 7.5 per cent of its gross domestic product.
Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of the topic/nepal">Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) was quoted by the South topic/china">China Morning Post, as saying that Chinese arrivals today are the "fastest growing segment of tourism in topic/nepal">Nepal."
"Only a decade ago, Chinese tourists amounted to about 30,000-35,000 annually. This topic/year">year we are expecting nearly 40,000 for this Lunar New Year holiday season alone," Joshi was quoted, as saying.
"This topic/year">year, we expect about 160,000 to 170,000 from India, and topic/china">China to narrow the gap substantially by going up to 130,000 to 135,000. While Indians are travelling further afield, topic/nepal">Nepal is still a new destination for the Chinese," Joshi was quoted, as saying.
Now with topic/china">China-friendly Communist leader K.P. Sharma topic/oli">Oli being topic/nepal">Nepal's topic/prime-minister">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, topic/china">China has already begun establishing a major presence in topic/nepal">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.
Once these airports are constructed, Chinese tourist numbers are expected to shoot up. The real game changer, however, will be the extension of the 1956-kilometer-long Qinghai-Tibet Railway to topic/nepal">Nepal.
Currently, five Chinese carriers - Air topic/china">China, topic/china">China Southern, topic/china">China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines-operate flights to topic/nepal">Nepal. Once cross-border land traffic picks up, Chinese tourist numbers are expected to grow exponentially.
topic/prime-minister">Prime Minister topic/oli">Oli recently told "This Week in Asia" in an interview that topic/nepal">Nepal is interested in having railway topic/connectivity">connectivity to topic/china">China. topic/china">China is already working to extend it to Chinese city Shigatse and then Kyirong in Tibet, which is about 75 kilometers from Kathmandu.
topic/nepal">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.