Nepal and India are poised to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on investment and cooperation in the tourism sector. The draft, jointly prepared by a team of tourism sector experts from both countries, recommends hassle-free transport movement at major border points and easing of frontier formalities at the customs. It also recommends opening of the Banbasa Bridge on the NepalIndia border for more than 12 hours from the current three hours a day to facilitate tourists, especially those who visit Nepal from India. India is the largest tourist source market for Nepal, which received 174,146 visitors from India in 2012, among whom 122,775 being first-time visitors.
Nepal’s Tourism Secretary, Sushil Ghimire, said that the country’s Ministry of Tourism is ready to revise the air service agreement with India if the existing air seat facility is not adequate, given the increasing movement of travelers. “On behalf of my ministry, I will leave no stone unturned to facilitate and address or convince the Nepal government on the need for the MoU between the two governments,” he said. The newly-appointed Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Ranjeet Rae, said that he would send recommendations to address the tourism sector of both countries.
Effective coordination with Indian railways and airlines was among other recommendations. Holding of annual Nepal-India tourism forum meetings to explore possibilities of a joint tourism promotion abroad is also recommended.