Kathmandu, July 8:

Tourism industry may face a substantial loss this season as the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is not issuing visa for foreign visitors travelling through Nepal. “Nepal will lose more than 20,000 visitors heading to Tibet,” according to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

Though the Chinese government opened Tibet Autonomous Region of China (TARC) for foreign visitors from July 1, an official at Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu said that they were yet to receive formal information from their government.

Because of its geographical proximity and easy availability of flights, foreign visitors to Tibet have been using Nepal as their transit point for years. The Kailash-Mansarovar area, Lhasa and Everest Base Camp from the Tibetan side are the major attractions for the foreign visitors in Tibet. Likewise, Nepali tour operators are also handling expeditions to Everest and other mountain peaks from the Tibetan side every year. “We received a circular from Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA) saying that Tibet was open for foreign visitors. We sold the package to our guests. But when we applied for visa, we were denied. We incurred a huge loss,” a trekking operator shared his experience.

According to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the transit visitors to Tibet stay at least three to five nights in Nepal. “They stay in our hotels, consume our tourism products and services and go to Tibet. They stay in Nepal on their way back home from Tibet and do some sightseeing and shopping also.

“The closure of TARC will also incur significant financial losses,” Nandini Lahe Thapa, tourism marketing and promotion director of NTB said. She further added that the closure of Tibet was one of the reasons behind the decline of tourist arrival via air in June.

Tourist arrival in June had declined by seven per cent in comparison to the arrival figure of same period last year. Thapa predicted further decline in tourists arrival in July and August as it is the high time for Tibet visit. Nepal is set to loss more than 1,00,000 bednights and more than $1.1 million, according to the NTB.