Nepal hoping for more Chinese tourists after visa fees waived

KATHMANDU, Nepal - Nepali officials expressed their hope on Saturday that waiving visa application fees for Chinese tourists will be helpful in boosting tourism in the Himalayan country after a devastating earthquake in April.

According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Nepal received 150,000 Chinese tourists in 2014 while the number stood at 46,000 in 2010.

Dinesh Chandra Thapaliya, Ministry Secretary, said the new policy of waiving visa fees for Chinese nationals visiting Nepal will come into effect from early 2016.

He also thanked the Chinese government for lifting a travel advisory issued to Chinese citizens visiting Nepal.

During a meeting in Beijing on Friday between Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, who is responsible for foreign affairs, and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the two countries pledged to boost tourism cooperation.

At that event, Nepal announced the waiving of visa application fees for Chinese citizens travelling to the country, while China decided to lift the travel alert to Nepal imposed after the April 25 earthquake.

"The Nepali government will make a formal decision very soon regarding waiving the visa application fees to Chinese nationals visiting Nepal," Thapaliya said.

"We express hope that the latest decision to waive visa application fees will help to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal," he told Xinhua.

"The number of Chinese tourists to come to Nepal has been soaring in the past few years. We expect more Chinese tourists in the country in the coming years."

Under Nepal's current laws, nationals from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries do not need to pay visa fees (if visiting Nepal for less than one month) unless they are entering into Nepal from a third country.

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