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Surge in Chinese arrivals elates trekking entrepreneurs

Trekking agencies that are facing difficult times due to decline in business from the European segment are expecting at least 10 percent rise in business this season, thanks to growing interest of Chinese tourists toward trekking.

“Rise in the number of tourists from China has encouraged trekking agencies even though bookings from Europe seem sluggish this season,” Ganga Sagar Pant, CEO of Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN), told Republica. He said business of trekking agencies could grow by 10 percent this year compared to last year.

According to the latest statistics published by Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the number of Chinese tourists grew by 16 percent to 71,861 in 2012, compared to 61,917 in 2011.

Despite rise in enquiries from Chinese tourists, trekking agencies, who heavily rely on European and American segments, are not happy. Bharat Shahi Thakuri, director of Hard Rock Treks and Expedition, said their overall booking has gone down by almost 40 percent mainly because of slowdown in the European segment and drop in the number of pilgrimage trekkers, who believe the year 2013 is not auspicious for pilgrimage.

However, Mahendra Singh Thapa, president of TAAN, agencies that explore Chinese and Indian markets can take benefit this year as the enquiries from youngsters from these two markets are encouraging. “I agree that European market has slowed down, but the Chinese market looks promising,” Thapa said, adding: “I am optimistic about Chinese segment this season.”

In order to reap benefits from the booming Chinese market, TAAN is mulling over providing Chinese language training to its member agencies. “We are holding talks with the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on the possibility of conducing Chinese language training for our member agencies,” Pant said.
Pant further added that TAAN is focused on increasing participation of TAAN members to Chinese travel fairs. “In the meeting with Chinese officials, we also raise issues like air connectivity and visa issue,” he added.

China is the second largest tourist generating market for Nepal after India. TAAN recently explored new trails in Khaptad, Jaljala and Himla in a bid to offer new trails to trekkers.

source: republica, 03 Sept 2013

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