Tourist arrival at Sunauli rises

Arun Gyanwali

Bhairahawa, May 21:

Despite the ongoing Maoists conflict, the number of land tourists entering the country via the Sunauli transit point has increased. According to Belhiya Immigration Office, the total number of tourists arriving in the country through this transit point in the first four months of 2004 is 20,803. In 2003 only 16,475 tourists had entered the country during this period from here. The office informed that 10,158 tourist arrival was recorded in the first four months in 2002.

The immigration office statistics showed that in 2004, 3,371 tourists came in the country in January while the number was 6,849 in February. Similarly, 8,412 entered the country during March while 2,163 came during April.

Though Indian tourists also come to the country through this transit point, their records are not kept. Surya Dev Kafle, chief of the immigration office, said, "The increasing insecurity in the country has not affected the tourist inflow. We do give out information about the regular bandhs in the country but the tourists keep on waiting for the closed transit points to open."

Kafle said that the picturesque views and natural beauty of the country lures in the tourists, however bad the situation in the country is. The office informed that tourists from Germany, England, America, Israel, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Myanmar use this transit point to come in Nepal. Three-day visas are provided to tourists for free and after three days they have to pay $30 for 60 days. With this, more and more tourists are lining up to savour the beauty of Lumbini and the country.