November 25: Stakeholders have expressed concern regarding the arrival of tourists despite government’s commitment to gradually reopen the tourism industry because of the mandatory provision of seven-day quarantine for foreign visitors.
The government had opened trekking and mountaineering for tourists from October 17 and had announced to gradually open other sectors from November 16.
The proposal of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to reopen the tourism industry by strictly following health protocols is yet to be endorsed by the Council of Ministers. However, the government has gradually opened various pilgrimage sites including Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha.
Tourism entrepreneurs say that domestic tourism is slowly reviving but the overall situation is still not encouraging, especially due to the seven-day quarantine provision for foreign tourists.
The government has already announced on-arrival visas for tourists who visit Nepal in groups. However, such visitors have to mandatorily stay in quarantine for seven days in hotels. Because of this provision, tourists make enquiry but hesitate to visit Nepal says Binayak Shah, first vice president of Hotel Association of Nepal.
Shah complained that the tourism industry is facing problem because the government has not been able to take appropriate decision.
“We have proposed setting up PCR tests at the airport itself and requested the government to reduce the quarantine period to three days. However, the government neither sets up testing facility itself nor does it allows us to do so,” complained Shah.
“What is the benefit of opening the tourism industry in such a fashion?” he questioned.
Shah said that foreign tourists are not willing to risk their lives and come here unless the government announces health contingency plans and assures treatment facility for them.
President of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) Khum Bahadur Subedi says that the government has turned a deaf ear to their repeated pleas in this regard.
“We are in favour of quick PCR tests for tourists for which the testing facility needs to be set up at the airport,” he said, adding, “The government needs to give guarantee to the tourists in case of emergency. Otherwise, no one is going to visit Nepal.”