All stranded tourists taken care of, claims NTB

Kathmandu, March 30

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has claimed that all the tourists stuck in Nepal have been taken care of with joint efforts of all the stakeholders.

A few days back, social media was flooded with news that tourists who had been stranded after the lockdown were helpless and without any money. However, the tourism board has said that all the tourists are safe and satisfied with the arrangements that were made for them.

“We are frequently collecting data and status of tourists who are stuck across the country and till date there has been no report about any tourist not having food and accommodation due to lack of money,” said Shradha Shrestha, brand manager of NTB.

As per Shrestha, most of the tourists are under the assistance of their respective embassies while others are paying themselves for their accommodation.

“Embassies and honorary consulates of countries like the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, Canada and Australia have taken the responsibility of their nationals,” she said. “Meanwhile, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia are jointly working with NTB to manage their nationals.”

She further said that NTB has requested the tourists to come in contact with the board if they have any such issue.

“A few days back, we received information that four Polish nationals were stuck in Sauraha as they had run out of money. We immediately managed accommodation for them,” she said, informing that currently all four of them have been accommodated by the Regional Hotel Association Nepal in Chitwan.

A few hotels and restaurants have remained opened even during the lockdown period for the convenience of tourists upon the request of the government and NTB.

Moreover, the hotels themselves have also taken the initiative to accommodate tourists, said NTB official Lila Baniya. “We are providing free rooms for tourists if needed and have also arranged budget hotels for them in different locations,” he added.

“All the respective agencies and stakeholders are taking care of their guests and we have not received any complaints from any tourist yet,” said Gopal Shrestha, member of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal. “Recently, we helped some of our German guests to return home and they were happy to be kept in a safe and secure manner in Nepal even during such a crisis,” he added.

According to NTB Brand Manager Shrestha, three more international flights are going to be operated soon to evacuate some foreign nationals.

“The US Embassy is conducting a flight on Tuesday to evacuate American citizens while Korean Air’s flight has been scheduled on April 3 that will be carrying back Korean tourists,” she said.

“The Australian embassy is coordinating with Nepal Airlines Corporation to evacuate Australian tourists on April 1.”

Amid this, NTB concluded its last rescue flights today.

As per NTB, a total of 74 people, including 41 foreigners and 33 Nepalis, were rescued via five flights this morning.

While most of the tourists are happy to get back to Kathmandu from different parts of the country, some of them are anxiously waiting for their governments to evacuate them immediately.

Expressing his dissatisfaction with the lackadaisical approach of his government, Philip Fluck, a British national, shared a post on his Facebook page on March 27: “Over 600 flew from Kathmandu to Munich this morning courtesy of the German Embassy. British Embassy, closed, emergency number voice message, wait until embassy opens. They know there are around 13,000 Europeans including Br itish coming off the Himalayas, the only ones not getting support.”

Likewise, Alex McClymont, a Canadian, used his Twitter handle to express his anger with his government, “Apparently there is still no plan to evacuate 140 Canadians currently stranded in Nepal. Why is Canada unable to do this despite German, French, British and American repatriation flights? We feel abandoned, misled and confused.