February 18: Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is preparing launch promotional campaign to revive the tourism sector that has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The tourism board aims to focus more on Asia, and one-stop away tourism destinations to help both the country and tourism stakeholders to sustain the tourism industry.
Mani Lamichhane, director of NTB, informed that NTB is currently preparing a promotional plan targeting regional and Asian tourists. "Under this strategy, NTB and Nepal Airlines are planning a sales scheme in Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi. We are also planning to attend SATTE, Delhi, and OTM Mumbai fairs - physically, and are also planning for at least two sales missions in India. Likewise, we are also getting ourselves ready for participating in fairs in China and other Asian Destinations,” he informed.
Even though NTB suggests it has made some initiation to revive the tourism industry from the current crisis, tourism entrepreneurs express a different view. They are distressed due to the “indifferent attitude” of the government and for not consulting with them for their opinion.
According to CN Pandey, past president of the Nepal Association of Tour and Travels Agents (NATTA), the government has not consulted with NATTA about any plans and policies.
"Even though the decision of focusing on regional tourist destinations is relevant, no consultation has been made with us," he expressed.
Tourist arrival in Nepal declined by 80 percent in 2020, compared to 2019, due to Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 230,000 foreigners had visited Nepal last year, while only 14 visited in April, the lowest-ever in history since government started keeping records. This downfall in tourist arrival has shattered the tourism entrepreneurs, who are still facing crisis and are struggling to sustain their business.
Binayak Shah, vice president of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), said that the private sector is unaware of what the government is doing.
"We see the government and tourism authorities are lagging behind during the current crisis. The decision and plans are unclear and lack proper management. The government, especially the tourism minister, has done nothing substantial to help us. They are sleeping while we are struggling to sustain. We have repeatedly urged them to open up visas on arrival for the tourists, but the decision is pending at the CCMC and cabinet," he shared.
Currently, tourism stakeholders are concerned about opening the country for tourism by following mandatory quarantine provision. They have been requesting the government to open visa on arrival and online visas.
Tourism stakeholders have urged the government to allow foreigners with negative PCR tests to enter the country. They have been requesting to conduct a PCR test at the airport for all the arriving tourists and allow the foreigners with negative test results to enter the country and individuals testing positive to be referred to hotel isolation or returned home.