24 May 2019
Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, Consul General of Nepal in Hong Kong, said adventurous people should consider visiting their country. Photo: HKEJ
Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, Consul General of Nepal in Hong Kong, said adventurous people should consider visiting their country. Photo: HKEJ

Nepal woos HK tourists after devastating quake

Located in the Himalayas, Nepal is home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain with its peak rising 8,848 meters above sea level.

Every year the country attracts tens of thousands of climbers from around the world who attempt to ascend the mountains in the region.

Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, Consul General of Nepal in Hong Kong, said adventurous people should consider scaling those peaks.

He himself had trekked to the base camp once, which is at a friendlier altitude of about 5,300 meters.

Pokhara, which is in the northwestern corner of the Pokhara Valley, is Bhattarai’s second top recommendation.

“It is a city of lakes, where tourists are embraced by the breathtaking reflections of mountains,” he explains. And, at Chitwan National Park, visitors could see rhinos.

On top of its abundance of natural landscapes and wildlife, Nepal is a country of rich cultural diversity.

“Though we are a small nation, we are a vibrant cultural hub. There are 123 Nepalese languages spoken and over 10 religions in the country. People interact with each other harmoniously, resulting in thousands of unique cultures,” says Bhattarai.

What should delight Hong Kong visitors is that at the moment, it is alright for all valid HKSAR passport holders to fly directly to Nepal and obtain a tourist visa on arrival.

Since the beginning of this year, the country has waived the visa fee for all tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong, a gesture aimed at boosting tourism after a devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake back in April 2015.

The Consul General said that while the country has largely recovered from the tragedy, many of the ancient cities like the capital Kathmandu and Bhaktapur have been too badly hit that royal palaces, temples and many other historic monuments have yet to be restored.

Nevertheless, visitors will not be disappointed as the nation’s cultural heritage can be found in every aspect of the Nepalese society.

For example, many of the local people still prefer wearing traditional clothes.

Nepal and Hong Kong have a long-standing relationship that dates back to the colonial period.

Currently, nearly 20,000 Nepalese live in the city. Most of them are former Gurkha soldiers and their families who decided to stay after Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.

The Consul General sees great potential in boosting ties between Nepal and Hong Kong, particularly in the area of labor.

Nepalese are quite familiar with the city and looking forward to working here.

“The Gurkhas who returned home have spoken highly of the city,” notes Bhattarai. “Hong Kong is regarded as a safe city, of good weather, and paying people with a relatively high and steady income.”

He said Nepal generates a labor force of 500,000 people every year.

They are aged 16 or above, many of them are school graduates. However, only 25 percent of our youngsters are able to secure a job, which means we have 75 percent excess labor. It would be nice if Hong Kong considers importing workers from Nepal.”

Meanwhile, the country is in great need of skilled workers and specialists such as engineers for its many infrastructure projects.

That’s an area where Hong Kong could help, he said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 4.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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The Consul General himself had trekked to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal once. Photo: HKEJ

Bhattarai (second from right) rides on an elephant with his friends at the Royal Chirtwan National Park. Photo: HKEJ

Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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