First meeting of Network of BIMSTEC Tour Operators ends

Kathmandu, July 7

The first meeting of Network of BIMSTEC Tour Operators concluded in New Delhi of India today.

A five-member Nepali delegation led by Acting Director General of Department of Tourism, Durga Dutta Dhakal, represented Nepal in the meeting. Other members of the team were Laxmi Sharma, legal officer with the department, Ashok Pokharel, president of Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO), Bikram Pandey, the founder of Buddhist Circuits.Com, and Shikhar Prasai, managing director of Natraj Tours.

In the meeting, participating tour operators shared their experience of handling tourist groups in the member states of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Trade and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

According to Dhakal, other issues discussed in the meeting were preparing a common tour package, setting up hospitality desk at the airports of all member states, preparing webpage of BIMSTEC tour operators and simplifying visas for citizens of member states to increase movement of tourists in the region.

Meanwhile, India has agreed to allow double entry e-visa facility to foreign tourists which would allow e-visa holders to enter and re-enter its territory by land. Earlier, only foreigners having sticker visa stamped on their passport were eligible for such facility.

“The decision means foreign tourists with Indian e-visa can now travel to bordering Nepali cities and return to India. The new provision will help us to bring more third-country tourists from India to Nepal. They will enter Nepal from India, stay a few days here and return to India,” Pandey of Buddhist Circuits.Com said.

“It will help us to bring more tourists to Lumbini, Chitwan and Pokhara and other tourists sites,” he added.

The next meeting of Network of BIMSTEC Tour Operators will be held in Sri Lanka.

Established in 1997, BIMSTEC is a sub-regional forum of seven countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.