Businessmen in Pokhara say they are hopeful the number of Chinese tourists visiting the lake city will increase following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit.
Bikal Tulachan, chairman of the Western Regional Hotel Association in Pokhara, said that with the visit, he hopes Nepal-China relations will strengthen and Chinese investments will come in for the development of the tourism sector in Pokhara. “It is obvious that the number of Chinese tourists will increase more now, following Xi Jinping’s visit,” said Tulachan.
Tulachan’s assumptions are not baseless. According to the data of the Tourism Board, there has been a steady increase in the number of Chinese tourists coming to Nepal in recent years. In 2018, around 154,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Nepal. The number was 124,000 in 2014.
It is not just Nepali entrepreneurs who are hopeful. Chinese entrepreneurs, who have been running their businesses under an umbrella organisation called Overseas Chinese Association, are also quite optimistic.
According to Tulachan, Chinese entrepreneurs have invested around Rs 500 million in hotels and restaurants in Pokhara, and currently run 17 of them. Some of the entrepreneurs have also invested in the agriculture sector. He said, “It is necessary to invite the Chinese government’s investments in mega projects for the development of Pokhara. Many Chinese entrepreneurs come to Pokhara with interest in starting four- and five-star hotels.”
Chinese entrepreneur Zhan Jiang Song, chairman of the association, claimed that the tourism sector will be developed in Nepal following Xi Jinping’s Nepal visit. He said, “Chinese people will be more informed about Nepal and this will aid in increasing the number of Chinese tourists here.”
Liao Ji Bing, a Chinese national who has been operating a restaurant in Lakeside, said “Pokhara is a beautiful city with good weather. Chinese people are attracted to visit this friendly city.” He, however, added that in order to draw more Chinese tourists, the country’s roads (such as the Kathmandu-Pokhara highway and the Pokhara-Lumbini roadway) need to be upgraded.
Gandaki Province and Hainan Province of China have already established sister relations to co-operate bilaterally in education, tourism, trade, culture energy among other sectors. Pokhara City has also established sister relations with Kunming, of China, to promote cultural relations through connectivity, tourism, exchanges of high-level visits, and researches.
Deepak Pariyar is the Kaski correspondent for Kantipur Publications.