Tourism stakeholders have demanded that the government relax the strict health safety protocols for tourists coming to Nepal.
Organising a joint press meet today, the tourism entrepreneurs demanded that the government remove the mandatory provision of quarantine for tourists carrying negative report of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The entrepreneurs also alleged that the government is not serious in solving the problems facing the tourism sector, saying that the overall tourism industry, including Nepal's mountain tourism, has collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two dozen tourism-related organisations, including Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Himalayan Rescue Association, and Society of Travel and Tour Operators Nepal, organised the joint press meet to draw the attention of the government as the tourists season is nearing.
During the meet, the entrepreneurs also demanded that the government introduce a provision of providing on-arrival visa services to all tourists coming to Nepal. Entrepreneurs also said that provision of granting online visa and visa from Nepali embassies or missions abroad should be arranged as well.
Likewise, entrepreneurs also urged the government to operate the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in full fledged manner.
"How can easing international travel restrictions risk the spread of coronavirus, when there is no such risk during the daily protests being organised in the country?" asked Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of TAAN. He said that tourists with negative PCR reports and who have been inoculated against the virus should be allowed to roam freely.
He also demanded the removal of requirements of $5,000 worth of COVID-19 insurance for all tourists.
Meanwhile, Achyut Guragain, president of NATTA, said that the government is turning a deaf ear to the legitimate demands of the tourism entrepreneurs. He said that the border checkpoints between Nepal and China should be opened as soon as possible, and that vehicles entering from the borders with India and China should be allowed in without any hindrance. Although the government has set up a COVID relief fund, small tourism entrepreneurs have not been able to benefit from it so far, he added
A version of this article appears in the print on February 23, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.