COVID-19, a virus that was first detected in Wuhan of China in late 2019, has put the entire world in uncertainty and chaos. The challenges faced by people during covid-19 crisis is uncontestable. This global pandemic has become one of most notable crises to challenge the health sector, economic sector and wellbeing of people all over the world. With the passing of almost one and half year since the virus was first detected, the world is still crippling, with the onset of second wave in different parts of the world.
Tourism industry is one of the major sectors that has been deeply affected by this deadly pandemic. The overwhelming impact caused by this virus on almost every part of global tourism is a burning issue now. Many governments have imposed severe and strict measures to stop the spread of this deadly virus which includes borders and airway closures along with lockdowns and countless travel restrictions that directly have affected the tourism industry, which in turn is causing a great economic downturn.
Tourism not only provides high volume of jobs for low skilled workers, together with high skilled jobs but it also generates foreign exchange, and drives regional and local development. The travel restrictions affected every sector of tourism, from hotels, or other types of accommodations, restaurants, museums, to small scale tourism businesses. The unprecedented effects on tourism jobs and business has led to near-complete cessation of tourism activities around the world.
There have been massive cancellation of hotels and tourist bookings followed by widespread unemployment, loss of income and threatened livelihoods for millions of people from every corner of the world. According to WTTC, The Travel & Tourism sector has suffered a loss of around 4.7 trillion US dollar in 2020, with the contribution to GDP dropping by a lurching 49.1% compared to 2019. The highest tourist generating countries like Costa Rica, France, USA, Greece, Morocco, Portugal, and Thailand are among the hardest hit with losses in tourism exceeding 3 percent loss in national GDP.
The consequences of COVID-19 in low and middle income countries like Nepal which rely on small number of service industries are deeply worrying. Without exception, like all the countries of the world, tourism of Nepal has also been decimated by this global pandemic. Around 2,00,000 people who are directly employed in hotel, restaurants, trekking, mountaineering, airlines and other tourism subsectors have been directly affected by the restrictions due to pandemic. Considering coronavirus and its health impact, Nepal Government had to cancel the ambitious campaign “Visit Nepal Year 2020” which aimed to bring 2 million tourists in Nepal. The total 1254 registered Hotels (tourist standard), 29 international airlines flying to Nepal, 20 domestic airlines, 2649 registered trekking agencies have been directly impacted and many tourism businesses among them can no longer sustain.
Domestic tourism is assisting to soften the blow, at least partly, and Nepal government is also coming up with plans and actions to restore and revive the sector, protecting business and jobs. In this time of crisis, people from every part of the world have shown unanimity to fight together to rebuild and reemerge. Many countries including Nepal are now developing measures to develop a more sustainable tourism economy post COVID-19 which includes preparing plans to support the strategic recovery of tourism.
South Korean Oh Eun-Sun becomes the first woman to summit the 14 highest peaks
According to latest reports on BBC and Explorersweb.com a South Korean climber, Oh Eun-Sun has reached the summit of Annapurna and is claiming a record for becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks. Her ascent to the summit was telecast live on KBS TV network yesterday (27th April 2010) at 18:15 Korea time (about 3:00pm, local time). Oh Eun-Sun was accompanied by 3 sherpas and 2 KBS camera men: Mr. Ha-Young Jung and Mr. Kwan-Joo Nha.
Fishtail Air & Air Zermatt pull off yet another difficult rescue operation
On Monday, 26th April, Fishtail Air & Air Zermatt’s rescue team evacuated seven members of a Korean expedition team from Mt.Manaslu(8,163m).The team comprising of pilot Capt. Sabin Basnyat, and rescue specialists from Air Zermatt, Richi Lehner and Dany Aufdenblatten left Kathmandu at 6:30 AM for Manaslu Base Camp. From above the Base Camp, the team saw, four people at Camp 2 at 6,200 meters and three people at about 200 meters away, moving slowly towards the camp. The rescue team took four rotations to rescue the very exhausted and frostbitten Korean Climbers and Sherpas. After arriving at a stopover, a second helicopter flew the rescued climbers to Kathmandu, while Dany, Sabin and a cameraman from Swiss TV ( who was recording for a documentary), went back to look for the remaining two climbers. They finally spied the lifeless body of one climber at an altitude of 7000 meters in a flank. The body of the other climber could not be located. Due to the height and steep terrain the body of the dead climber could not be recovered.
The Govt. of Nepal has revised trekking permit fees for the controlled areas, in a bid to attract more trekkers to these areas. The notice was published in Nepal Gazette (Volume 58 No 10) which states that the revised permit fee will come into effect from 16th July , 2008.
As per the new provision, a trekker in Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpo will now have to pay US$ 500 or equivalent foreign currency per person for first 10 days. For trip extensions, the extra fee per extra day fee per person has been fixed at US$ 50 or equivalent foreign currency. The fee for trekking in Manaslu region has been fixed at US $ 70(per person) for a week and US $ 10 per person for each extra day during September to November. However, only US $ 50 is charged per trekker per week from December to August and additional US $ 7 per trekker per each extra day. Similarly, permit fee for Humla (Simikot-Yari) has been fixed at US $ 50 per person per week and US $ 7 per person per extra day.
Permit fee for Kanchanjunga, Lower Dolpa and Gaurishankar and Lamabagar has been fixed at US $ 10 per person per week. However, permit fee for Chekampar and Chunchet of Gorkha district (Sirdibas-Lhokpa-Chumling-Chekampar-Nile-Chule) has been fixed at US $ 35 per person for eight days during September to November and US $ 25 per person for eight days during December to August.
The government has also revised existing tourist visa fee to be effective from 16th July, 2008. As per the new fee structure, US $ 25 or equivalent foreign currency is required to obtain Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 15 days. Likewise, Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 30 days can be obtained by paying US $ 40 or equivalent foreign currency. Similarly, Tourist Visa with Multiple Entry for 100 days can be obtained by paying US $ 100.
The government has also revised the fee required for extended stay in the country and visa renewal. According to the revised fee structure, Tourist Visa can be extended by paying US $ 2 or equivalent Nepalese currency per day. Likewise, Multiple Entry facility can be obtained only for the extension period by paying an additional US $ 20 and visa fee for the extended period. Similarly, tourists can renew their visa by paying Nepalese currency equivalent to US $ 3 on the regular visa extension fee.
Right now the whole world is in despair due to coronavirus outbreak. Amidst this chaos, the travelers who are stranded are suffering more with countries tightening their lockdown after the growing number of corona cases and deaths. Government of Nepal has also imposed complete lockdown since 24th March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, around 2000 travelers are stranded in Nepal due to the lockdown. In response to this distressing situation, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has initiated a support network named Stranded in Nepal to facilitate the travelers for their safe return to their respective countries. The network enlists all the important services any traveler require at the current situation. The services include different WhatsApp groups (support channel, who want to stay & wait, who want to leave, country-wise), embassies details, airlines details, accommodations, restaurants and eateries list which are still serving and important information & links. The network also offers useful tips and guidelines to the travelers as follows:
In the meantime, the Government of Nepal is in constant contact with concerned embassies for returning their citizens. The Government in collaboration with local authorities is also evacuating the travellers by ground transferring and airlifting them to the capital city. Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality and Hotel Association Lukla are providing free lodging and fooding facilities to those stuck in Lukla (effective from 26th till lockdown period). Some hospitality providers are also offering free food and accommodation to the travellers in Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Though the situation is upsetting, Nepali tourism is responding it with patience and positivity. Explore Himalaya wholeheartedly appreciates such initiatives and extends thanks to everyone involved in this relief work especially Nepal Tourism Board, Government of Nepal, Local Authorities and Kind Hearts! We are also doing our best to arrange food and accommodation for our travelers and speed up their repatriation.
Hopefully all of us will overcome this situation very soon! Stay Safe, Stay Strong!!!