The world’s most populous country China has become the biggest source of visitors to Nepal in February.

According to Nepal Tourism Board, 16,205 Chinese visited Nepal in February, which is 5.3 percent more than the arrivals recorded in the same period last year.

The travel trade entrepreneurs attributed the growth of visitors from the northern neighbour to a week-long holiday during the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival on February 5.

Arrivals from the southern neighbor jumped strongly by 92.5 percent to 14,571 individuals in February. The arrivals from India include only those who traveled by air to Nepal.

The arrival statistics show that 124,421 foreign visitors visited Nepal in February, representing a growth of 39 percent over the same period last year. Among them, 97,694 foreign visitors came by air. In the January-February period, Nepal recorded 33 percent growth in foreign tourist arrivals.

“The growth is the result of massive promotional efforts of Nepal Tourism Board and the private sector travel trade,” said Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of the country’s tourism promotion board. He said that with this “phenomenal growth” of almost 40 percent in February, the target of Visit Nepal 2020 looks realistic. “The board will continue its promotional activities in the international market.” The government has targeted to bring 2 million foreign visitors to Nepal next year.

The board statistics show that Sri Lanka was the second biggest source of visitors to Nepal. The country recorded 14,831 Sri Lankan visitors in February. The overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a strongest growth of 85 percent to 31,831 arrivals in February as compared to same month last year.

Visitors from Thailand, Japan and South Korea have also increased significantly by 109 percent, 20 percent and 47.2 percent respectively.

The European arrivals have also surged with healthy growths from the key markets. Arrivals from the UK, Germany and France were 5,268; 3,340 and 1,978 respectively with 8.7; 27.9 and 7.6 percent growth rates. The total European arrivals in February reached 17,789 with regional aggregated growth of 11.6 percent.

Total number of the US visitors to Nepal in February was7, 133, an increase of 5 percent over the figures of February last year. Likewise, the number of Australians visitors to Nepal was 2,978 which is17.4 percent more than in February 2018.