Nepal | October 22, 2020

Safety protocols issued for mountaineering, trekking sector to be amended

Himalayan News Service
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The Department of Tourism (DoT) is preparing to amend the safety protocols that were recently issued for the mountaineering and trekking sector. As the government has announced it will allow tourists to travel to Nepal from October 17, it had issued health safety protocols for the tourists and concerned stakeholders.

However, after being criticised by the stakeholders regarding the protocols, DoT is now preparing to amend them, informed Director General of DoT, Rudra Singh Tamang while addressing a virtual meeting organised by the Tourism Recovery Task Force (TRTF).

“Stakeholders have stated that the mandatory seven-day quarantine is not appropriate for foreigners travelling to Nepal. So, we are having discussions with the stakeholders on how we can manage this issue,” DG Tamang said. “We are also holding talks with COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) on whether we should allow travellers other than mountaineers and trekkers to enter the country,” he added.

Similarly, the department is also preparing to reduce the COV- ID-19 insurance amount for tourists. The protocol has mentioned that each tourist travelling to Nepal must have COVID-19 insurance worth $5,000.

Meanwhile, DoT has allocated Rs 200 million to refinance the tourism industry. The department will be preparing plans and programmes related to refinancing in coordination with the National Planning Commission, Tamang added.

In the meantime, Sameer Mani Dixit, general secretary of Nepal Public Health Foundation, said that now the government has to embrace the COVID-19 as a new normal and should implement alternative ways of handling the situation.

“The number of positive cases is increasing each day, however, there is no way we can afford to halt economic activities again,” he said.

“Lockdowns and restrictions will not work anymore. Thus, the government has to bring policies that can prevent infection from spreading along with continuing economic activities,” Dixit said.

Similarly, former CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Deepak Raj Joshi said that the safety protocols issued by the government have not been implemented properly and that could create problems for the industry. “The government has to strictly monitor and make sure that all the stakeholders follow the health safety protocols,” he said, adding, “Along with opening a way for tourists to come to Nepal, we also have to focus on promoting domestic tourism.”

As domestic tourism has been growing in recent years, this can be the way out for the revival of the tourism industry, he added.

Adding to this, Prativa Pandey, managing director of CIWEC Hospital, said that the world knows about the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in the country. “Hence, the number of foreign tourists will decline, so stakeholders have to focus on domestic tourism,” she added.

“Most of the hospitals in the country are ready to serve COVID-19 patients including foreigners, however, there is very little chance of them travelling during this pandemic. Thus, we have to focus on domestic tourism,” she said.

A version of this article appears in print on October 09, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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