About 25,000 foreign tourists, mostly Indians, planning to visit Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet through Nepal have been forced to change their plans as China has shut down all border points in the region after the recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal.
Nepal's tourism and civil aviation ministry has asked the foreign ministry to raise the issue with the Chinese authorities, saying that taking 25,000 foreigners to Kailash Mansarovar through Nepal will benefit the country at a time when the tourism sector has been hard-hit by the April 25 devastating earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.
These 25,000 foreigners, including Indian, Russian, Malaysian and other European tourists, have booked their tours for Kailash Mansarovar through 38 tour and travel companies based in Nepal. China has closed border points at Tatopani, Rasuwa and other places, stating that there can be landslides and it would be difficult to travel or trek.
Travel operators have asked the government to take initiative to allow tourists to visit Kailash Mansarovar by helicopter or on foot from Nepalgunj-Surkhet, the western part of Nepal that is close to the Hindu pilgrimage site, local media reported.
No tourist has, however, cancelled bookings so far, the chairman of Kailash Tour Association, Prakash Shrestha was quoted as saying.Tourism entrepreneurs have demanded that the tour should be allowed even by opening the Hilsa point in Humla district."A total of 25,000 tourists are still ready to come once we give them the time-table," said a tour operator.
About 80 per cent of tourists visiting Kailash Mansarovar are Indians and around 40,000 visit the pilgrimage site via Nepal every year.The May-July period is considered the main season for visiting Kailash Mansarovar, a popular Hindu and Buddhist shrine.
Nepali tourism operators in association with Indian tour operators make all arrangements for tourists to visit Kailash Mansarovar. Entrepreneurs claim that over 100,000 people will get employment if these 25,000 tourists come to Nepal."The government must, therefore, facilitate it," said an entrepreneur.