Chinese nationals seek NTB’s support to return home

Kathmandu, April 26

Some Chinese nationals who have been stranded in the country approached Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) today seeking its support to return home. A group of around 30 Chinese carrying placards with the message ‘We want to go home’ reached the NTB office and urged the board to coordinate with the Chinese government to repatriate them.

Although several repatriation flights have been conducted by other countries the Chinese embassy has not conducted any flights yet. After the Chinese embassy did not respond to the requests of the stranded Chinese nationals they have sought the support of the tourism board, said NTB official Lila Baniya.

“According to those who met us today there are around 400 Chinese who have been stranded here due to the lockdown and are staying in different locations inside the Valley,” Baniya said. “They said that the Chinese government has halted the operation of chartered flights from other countries and they are facing problems staying back here.”

The Chinese nationals informed NTB that they are running out of money and the embassy has requested them to stay in self-isolation at hotels that they are staying in currently. However, now they are not able to afford food and accommodation. Meanwhile, they also do not have money to pay the government for chartered flights, hence they want NTB to coordinate with the concerned authorities to send them home, Baniya added.

“According to those who came today, there are a few pregnant women and also students who have to attend their colleges,” he said, adding, “They want NTB to talk to the Chinese embassy. However, our protocol does not allow us to directly contact the embassy.”

According to Baniya, NTB has requested the Chinese nationals to approach the board with a request letter. “If they can provide us a letter then we can forward it to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and request the Chinese embassy to take needful action,” he added.

However, another NTB official seeking anonymity said that they first have to find out the identity and travel history of the Chinese nationals before taking any action. “The Chinese who came to NTB today have claimed that they are tourists, however their identity is suspicious,” the official said. “Chinese tourists who were staying in Nepal illegally might be taking advantage of this situation to return home.”

Due to the lockdown all kinds of businesses have been affected in the country including those being operated by a few Chinese nationals. Hence, they might want to go back as they are at loss and there is no way of going back legally from here, the official added.

Meanwhile, a Twitter account with the handle, Batura_Biafo, has been posting the same message frequently in the Twitter account called ‘Stranded in Nepal’ opened by NTB to help rescue tourists. “More than 100 Chinese tourists are stranded in Nepal, including sick children, pregnant women and some with background diseases but out of medicine. We are running out of money or dying silently in Nepal, but neither the Chinese nor Nepali government really cares,” the message reads. Apparently, NTB officials and the tourist police have also been receiving exactly the same message through different e-mail accounts.

The NTB official said that they are trying to find out the authenticity of the message. “However, the Chinese embassy has to take the responsibility on this issue.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 27, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.