Nepal’s tourism sector faces $330mn loss due to COVID-19

Kathmandu: Nepal’s tourism industry is estimated to lose over $330 million due to the government-enforced lockdown imposed in the wake the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

“The loss is expected to cross 40 billion Nepali Rupees ($332 million) until July 21, the extended deadline of lockdown,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying in a report on Friday.

A task force formed by the Nepal Tourism Board and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has estimated the loss of $83 million each month during the lockdown in the hospitality sector such as hotels, travels and aviation.

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Although the government on June 10 relaxed lockdown, allowing most of the economic activities to operate, the tourism sector, particularly hotels and airlines sectors have not been allowed to reopen.

Nepal’s cabinet also decided to continue suspension of domestic and international flights till July 21.

As the tourism sector faces huge losses, a delegation of Nepali tourism entrepreneurs on Friday submitted a memorandum to Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai demanding that the sector should reopen too.

A statement issued by the Ministry on Friday said that the tourism entrepreneurs asked the Nepali government to allow the airlines to operate the scheduled domestic and international flights on condition that certain health protocols are complied.

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Currently, the government has been allowing just chartered flights for humanitarian purposes and taking delivery of medical goods.

The tourism entrepreneurs also demanded that the Nepali government should allow operating tourist vehicles, remove garbage from the mountains and carry out infrastructure development in tourism destinations in the mountain regions where there is not thick settlement.

Binayak Shah, first vice-president of the Hotel Association of Nepall, told Xinhua on Friday that they asked the government to reopen the hotels and airline sectors as they are struggling to pay staff amid continued closure.

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