Many foreigners still stuck in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, April 19

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has rescued a number of foreigners from across the country and brought them back to Kathmandu while repatriation flights for stranded tourists are still ongoing.

However, there are still more than 2,000 foreigners who are in Kathmandu waiting to go back home while others are willingly staying back. Around 700 of them are staying in Thamel at present, said Prakash Narsingh Rana, president of Thamel Tourism Development Council (TTDC).

According to him, among the tourists who were rescued from outside Kathmandu there are 1,000 of them who are still in the capital. “Some of them are waiting for their countries to repatriate them while others want to stay here as Nepal is safer than their country,” Rana said. “And some tourists have to stay here because of travel bans in their respective countries.”

Meanwhile, a large number of tourists are staying in hotels located at other places inside the Valley.

As per NTB, it had rescued a total of 1,721 tourists till April 3, of which, 868 were rescued via air route while 853 were rescued via land route. Meanwhile, the embassies of Germany, Britain, France and other countries had also conducted rescue flights from Pokhara and Jomsom to bring back their nationals to Kathmandu for repatriation. However, not all of them got the chance to return home.

It is to be noted that the authorities are yet to compile the exact data on the number of tourists who are still stranded in the country.

“I was frequently contacted by our embassy for the repatriation flight, however, I feel safer in Nepal,” said Paul Tuttle, an American national who is currently staying in Thamel.

Tuttle had visited Nepal in November, 2019 to visit various monasteries. However, before he could complete his visits the government imposed a nationwide lockdown and he has been in Thamel since then. He, however, informed that since the United States is in a more terrible condition than Nepal he chose to stay back.

“I am enjoying the peaceful environment of Kathmandu and moreover people here are so helpful and kind,” he said.

“They are making my stay convenient.”

Nepal has extended the restriction on international flights till April 30 but Tuttle said he is prepared for that too.

According to Rana, most of the tourists staying in Thamel are Russians among which a few will fly back to their country on Monday. Likewise, a number of Chinese and Indian tourists are also stranded in Kathmandu and have asked their governments to repatriate them.

“We’re stranded in Nepal since a long time now. Please get us home before things get worse. So many rescue flights have flown out of Nepal in the last two weeks,” wrote Nikitesh Patil from India on his Twitter handle mentioning the Indian embassy.

Meanwhile, an NTB official seeking anonymity, said that a large number of Chinese who were staying in Nepal for a long time and doing business are also trying to go back to China.

The TTDC along with other stakeholders are providing food and accommodation to tourists stranded in Thamel.

“Some hotels are providing free food and accommodation for those who have run out of money while others have provided accommodation at 50 per cent discount,” Rana said. “A few restaurants are also providing free lunch and dinner to those in need.”

According to him, most of the tourists who have returned from their trekking have been provided accommodation by the hotels they stayed in when they first arrived in Kathmandu.

Till date, Germany, France, Australia, America, Britain, South Korea, Maldives, Bangladesh, Japan and some other countries have repatriated around 3,500 tourists.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 20, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.