Nepal Tourism after COVID-19
Everything shall come to pass
We all know that the whole market is crashed because of Covid-19. People has suffered physically and mentally because of the virus. Like every other industry Tourism industry has been hit hard by the virus. Covid-19 has shaken us to our very soul, no doubt on that but is it the end of tourism? Are we forever going to cancel travel plans? Is humanity going to give up the discovery and exploration of nature?
Let’s think about it, like everything else in the past, this shall too pass.
Impact of COVID-19
Nepal, country of Asia, lying along the southern slopes of the Himalayan mountain ranges. It is a landlocked country located between India to the east, south, and west and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north. Its territory extends roughly 500 miles (800 kilometres) from east to west and 90 to 150 miles from north to south. The capital is Kathmandu.
Tourism is one of Nepal’s largest industries. Tourism revenue in 2018 accounted for 7.9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supported >1.05 million jobs, with the expectation of providing >1.35 million jobs by 2029. Nepal hosted 1.19 million foreign tourists in 2019, and the ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ campaign, officially introduced on 1 January, aimed to attract 2 million tourists, generate $2 billion and create thousands of new jobs.
However, on 23 January, the first case of imported COVID-19 was detected in Nepal. In response to cases worldwide increasing exponentially and amid growing public concern, the government suspended the ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ initiative on 3 March. Shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 13 March, the government suspended all permissions for mountaineering expeditions and suspended all visas.
After confirmation of the second imported case on 23 March, the government locked the country down and suspended all national and international flights. Massive cancellations of hotel and tourist bookings followed, resulting in widespread unemployment, loss of income and threatened livelihoods for thousands. The collapse of international and domestic tourism followed a 2% drop in tourist arrivals in January 2020 compared to 2019. Over 10 000 tourists who had entered Nepal before the lockdown was also left stranded, although many of them were eventually repatriated.
International and domestic commercial flights and chartered flights to Nepal are being operated from Sept 1, 2020. All incoming international passengers are required to meet and fulfil all the requirements of arrival protocols.
Current Scenario of Covid-19 in Nepal
These days things are beginning to return to normal routine in Kathmandu and other less affected cities after the lockdown was eased. The government eased the lockdown in different parts of the country as per the number of cases in the area. The high-risk areas which are the southern part of the country sharing an open border with India still remain under lockdown to control the outbreak.
As of Feb 20 2021, there are 273,263 cases of COVID-19 registered in Nepal. Out of which, 269,619 have recovered with active case standing at 3,644. Sadly, 2061 deaths have been registered in Nepal until Feb 20, 2021. Today as of Feb 20, 2021 things are back to normal in Nepal and daily works have begun to resume. The vaccination has started in Nepal too and the government plans to vaccinate the majority of the population by Mid 2021.
Yet again, this shall too pass like everything in the past. Now we know better about how our small negligence can end up being a disease, we know why hygienic is of utmost importance and we’ll follow the guidelines of health experts and open the door of the New World.
Opportunities for New Pathways
Despite the fact that tourism industry is highly vulnerable to numerous environmental, political, and socio-economic risks, it has previously shown its resilience, as seen in the aftermath of the Maoist insurgency or the great earthquake of 2015. The nature and intensity of COVID-19, however, indicates that this crisis is different, and could lead to profound and long-term structural changes to tourism as a socio-economic activity and industry. Nonetheless, the crisis also provides unprecedented opportunities to redefine the tourism sector’s relationship with nature, climate and the economy and to transform the sector. The following initiatives may contribute to substantial, meaningful and positive transformation of tourism in post-COVID-19 era, in addition to implementing and communicating health protocols.
First, sustainability should be the core of growth of all sectors of tourism by addressing climate change and wherever possible, to move towards a circular economy or regenerating economy. One of the key tourism sectors in Nepal is adventure tourism, including trekking, rafting, mountaineering and other adventure activities. This can be restructured by blending natural and cultural experiences to make tourism sustainable. We need to learn lesson from past mistakes of prioritizing quantity over quality, and destruction over sensible development that can positively influence quality of life and the environment for communities dependent on tourism. For this to happen, the portfolio of tourism market has to be diversified; tourism infrastructure and service provisions, particularly at remotely located destinations have to be improved; high value tourism destinations have to be developed selectively in contrast to ‘free for all’ destinations, and professionalism has to be built in sustainable tourism practices.
Second, technology is at the core of the solution for combating COVID-19 and reopening the economy. There has been an increased use of robotics, artificial intelligence, and humanoid robots in delivering materials, disinfecting and sterilizing public places, detecting and measuring body temperature, providing safety and security to contain the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals, airports, hotels, restaurants and community in general. In addition, big data has been used for fast and real-time decision making. While the potential job losses incurred by the adoption of this technology will be a source of controversy, it is highly likely that the travel and tourism sectors will use new digital technology after the COVID-19 pandemic becomes less serious as digitalization and innovation provide opportunities to scale up operational procedures that make travel safe and seamless and minimize wastes. In addition, it would help enhance the competitiveness and agility of MSMEs to reach customers, provide added value jobs and implement effective health protocols. It is therefore necessary that the government unveil recovery packages with a special focus to encourage maximum use of new technology, promote digitalization of MSMEs and invest in digital skills.
Third, the success of the tourism sector depends on the adoption of an approach towards building partnerships at all levels, consistent with vertical coordination between the three tiers of government – federal, provincial and local – as well as the adoption of evidence-based policy with a focus on community wellbeing. It also demands enhanced coordination across sectors supporting tourism such as air and road transport, technology, trade, investment, education, culture and strong public/private partnership beyond the concept of existing Nepal Tourism Board. Fourth is the promotion of domestic tourism. One can observe an increasing trend of more than 6 million middle-class Nepalis visiting different parts of the country for trekking, paragliding, rafting, bungee jumping, rock climbing, jungle safari, and sightseeing. Domestic tourism can have a positive economic impact at both the national and local level. It not only creates employment opportunities for the local people but also promotes local entrepreneurship. From a national perspective, it helps balanced regional development, promotes inclusive growth, and reduces vulnerability of the tourism by reducing dependency on foreign tourists.
Travel is Safer in Nepal after 2020.
Nepal is a landlocked country, the only way people from western countries come to Nepal is by Air. NTB (Nepal tourism board) is working hard to do everything possible for making travel as safe as it can be without any hassle and extra struggle. The precaution guidelines which are actively in action for the time when International flights will be back to normal. As per the social distancing protocol by WHO, Nepal has always been the country where greeting is done with Namaste or Namaskar which is done with two hand joints together with a significant distance. As per the guidelines by Nepal Tourism Board, Gears like Temperature screening device, Sanitizer, high-quality mask, and all other equipment on that particular date will be at your service for all safety precautions.
Earlier in the autumn, a team of mountaineers from Bahrain were given special permission to scale Mount Lobuche and Mount Manaslu. They were made to follow all the new rules placed by the government and reported no problems. The success of the expedition was celebrated by the mountaineering community in Nepal, as was the government decision to reopen to all qualified mountaineers and trekkers in October.
Why you should visit Nepal after coronavirus?
- COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates to us the value of freedom – the freedom to travel and to appreciate the mother nature. Well, Nepal can be a perfect destination as every activity in Nepal revolves around finding yourself and your existence.
- Nepal hosts a diverse array of landscapes and is a country of contrast. Nepal is a small nation in terms of its size but the country portrays diverse landscapes, cultures and religions, providing lifetime experiences.
- Travelling to Nepal is affordable as compared to other countries. Post pandemic travel around the world is going to be expensive. Nepal may just be a perfect pick for you as the country offers a wide range of choices in terms of accommodation, food, travel etc.
- The mountainous region of Nepal is not touched by COVID-19. Most of the COVID-19 affected areas in Nepal are in the southern part, close to India border. The mountainous regions are not in the COVID hot spot areas.
- The weather and air quality have improved due to travel restrictions and lockdown. Clear skies with vistas stretching for miles are visible and there has been a drastic reduction of litter and waste in the mountains.
- The people of Nepal needs your help now more than ever. You can help by visiting the country and we are sure you will not be disappointed.
Hiking/Trekking can be the best idea after Covid-19.
We know the more we’re in social gatherings, the more chances of getting affected but it doesn’t mean you have cancelled all travel plans right? Matter of fact Nepal is one of the few countries where Covid-19 cases are decreasing rapidly! but still, we need to take every precaution possible for sure.
So what might be the sensible way to deal with this kind of scenario?
Most of the trekking regions in Nepal are less affected by the coronavirus. Although the virus has spread throughout the nation, the mountainous region of Nepal has seen only a few numbers of cases. Till date, there is no positive case in Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp and other major trekking regions. The local governing authorities have placed a strict quarantine and testing protocols to make sure that the virus is not traced in these regions.
The Tourism Ministry has requested all the lodge owners and local authorities to mandate the safety protocol strictly and to adhere by the guideline in day to day operation to gain back the confidence of international and national tourists. Major popular trekking areas such as Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp etc. may see fewer numbers of trekkers than expected once travel restriction has been lifted but you should still be cautious and follow the safety protocols strictly. We have also mandated new norms on our trek to help mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.
Furthermore, including travel, tourism, adventure, and nature, Nepal has a distinct quality of spirituality. This lockdown and pandemic have affected the mental health of millions of people. Travel with spiritual therapy for the mind is a must indeed for the current situation. Nepal assures the presence of such a relaxed and scenic environment that is integral to bettering one’s mental health. Rather than going to mass gatherings, one can go for nature exploration, trekking/ hiking which you might actually love to do after staying at home for almost a month or more depending on the city you live in. At the same time, the wonderful mountain views provide an amazing opportunity for complete physical and mental rejuvenation. The charming view of the horizon and sun rays’ kisses over the snow-capped mountains is enough to render you speechless and provide you with all the enjoyment you crave. In fact, the best views from the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Region treks make your journey full of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Nepal Welcomes You After the Covid-19
There is no need to cancel or alter your Nepal holiday plans for 2021 as of now and the tourism ministry is looking at every possible option for opening up the tourism in Nepal, whilst keeping the safety of travellers and workers a paramount. We are optimistic that 2021 will run as planned as the flights, hotels, lodges have all resumed safely catering to the needs of tourists.
The tourism industry, workers and local people of this country need your support now more than ever to sustain. We are sure the normal days will return soon and in the meantime take care and stay safe. We look forward to welcoming you and guiding you in the Himalayas with better safety and experience.
Special Entry Requirements for Trekkers and Mountaineers:
According to guidelines approved by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation for mountaineers and trekkers:
- Trekkers and mountaineers may be allowed into Nepal as of October 17. Please contact your travel and trekking agency for more up to date information.
If implemented, the guidelines provide that:
- Trekkers and mountaineers must obtain a visa before arrival through their travel and trekking agencies.
- Trekkers and mountaineers upon arrival must submit negative results from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departing their home country.
- Trekkers and mountaineers must have a hotel booking for a 7-day quarantine in Nepal.
- Trekkers and mountaineers must possess insurance of at least $5,000 USD against COVID-19.
- On the fifth day of quarantine, trekkers and mountaineers must take a PCR test at their own expense before proceeding with their trek or expedition.
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