Nepal to be promoted as ‘coronavirus-free zone’

Kathmandu, February 18

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) today declared that Nepal is free from coronavirus and asked related government agencies to accelerate efforts to promote country’s tourism in the international market.

Amid a meeting held with tourism stakeholders here today, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai directed related agencies to develop audio-visual products highlighting Nepal as a ‘coronavirus-free zone’ within three days and promote the message in the international market through different means. Minister Bhattarai urged the related agencies to prepare such audio-visual products in Nepali, English, Hindi and Chinese languages.

Expressing solidarity with the Chinese people and the northern neighbour, Bhattarai also said that a promotional product stating that Nepal is ready to welcome Chinese tourists would be prepared within one week and featured in different Chinese media.

Meanwhile, Minister Bhattarai also directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to encourage international airlines to fly to Nepal and issue flight permits to those interested. Similarly, he also asked Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to focus on major tourism markets of Nepal and start flying to new destinations.

On the occasion, the minister also informed that 12 sectoral desks will be set up at the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to promote country’s tourism in the new context amid the spread of coronavirus and its impact on tourism.

Each desk will comprise representatives from NTB, Visit Nepal Secretariat and the private sector.

These initiatives and direction from MoCTCA have come as Nepal’s tourism sector has been impacted by coronavirus epidemic.

While the country is observing Visit Nepal tourism campaign with an aim of bringing in two million tourists in 2020, foreign tourist arrivals dropped by 33 per cent in January. A total of 67,020 tourists visited Nepal last month compared to inflow of 91,793 foreign visitors in January of 2019.