KATHMANDU: Communist China is celebrating its 60th birthday and has barred foreigners from travelling to Tibet until October 1.
Tourism entrepreneurs here opined that foreigners have been barred to avoid any disturbance during the celebrations there. According to Nepal Association of Travel and Tour Agency (NATTA) president Ram Kaji Koney, the ban is only for a short period.
He said there is not much Chinese tourist flow into Nepal and during the China mission NATTA lobbied to attract at least four to five per cent of the Chinese tourists that come to Tibet. He added that around four million Chinese tourists visit Tibet annually and that they could be lured into extending their visit to Nepal also.
In 2008, around 4,50,000 Chinese tourist visited India compared to only around 31,000 Chinese visiting Nepal in 2008 by air and by road. The ban will officially go into effect from tomorrow. Issuing of passes for foreign travellers wanting to enter Tibet will be suspended from September 24 to October 8, according to a notice from the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
The Chinese government has sharply ramped up security in Tibet, putting thousands of extra police personnel on the streets ahead of the festivities which will include a military parade, fireworks and mass entertainment programmes at the square. Foreign tourists must obtain special permission from the Chinese government to enter Tibet.