COVID-19: Nepal tourism industry faces USD 282m loss

- A Monitor Desk Report 05 Jul, 2020 | 519 Views|-+
Dhaka: Nepal’s tourism industry is estimated to lose USD 282 million since the government imposed lockdown in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to the country's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil aviation.

"The loss is expected to cross USD 332 million by July 21, extended deadline of the lockdown," read a report on the ministry’s activities during the period from March 24 to June 29, which the Ministry unveiled on July 3.

A task force formed by the Nepal Tourism Board, main tourism promotion body of Nepal and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, the aviation sector regulator, has estimated the loss of USD 83 million each month during the lockdown in the hospitality sector such as hotel, travel and aviation.

Although the Nepali government on June 10 eased lockdown, allowing most of the businesses to operate, the tourism sector, particularly hotels and airlines have not received approval to reopen.

Nepal’s cabinet also decided on June 29 to continue suspension of domestic and international flights till July 21.

As the tourism sector faces huge losses, a delegation of Nepali tourism entrepreneurs on July 3 submitted a memorandum to Nepal’s Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai demanding that the tourism sector be reopened too.

A press statement issued by the Ministry on July 3 said that the tourism entrepreneurs asked the Nepali government to allow the airlines to operate scheduled domestic and international flights in compliance with the health protocols.

Currently, Nepali government has been allowing the operations of only chartered flights for humanitarian purposes and taking delivery of medical goods.

The tourism entrepreneurs also demanded that the Nepali government should allow operating tourist vehicles, remove garbage from the mountains and carry out infrastructure development in tourism destinations in the mountain regions where there is not thick settlement.

Binayak Shah, first Vice-President of the Hotel Association of Nepal, said on July 3 that they asked the government to reopen the hotels and airline sectors as they are struggling to pay staff amid continued closure.

"At least we want certainty when these sectors are reopened so that we can plan for the future," he added.

"We are getting few inquiries for hotel booking for the autumn season from the tourists who are attracted to come here for trekking and mountaineering."

He further mentioned that although the Nepali government decided to use certain hotels as quarantine centres for Nepalis brought home from abroad, very few hotels are occupied currently.

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