Everyone was asking the question, “When will Nepal open for Trekking and Expeditions?”.
Finally, after six months of the strict lockdown, the government has loosened the ties and granted permission to operate all the hotels, restaurants, travel, and trekking agencies in Nepal starting from September 17 by following the health & safety standards.
Also, the domestic airlines are allowed to operate flights to all destinations across the country from the same date. However, airline operators can operate only 30 percent of their earlier slots according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
As for trekking and expeditions activities, it would commence only from October 17 with restrictions on foreign tourists until further notice.
The international flight only resumed from September 1st for only Nepalese and representatives of diplomatic missions, the United Nations, and development partners.
Make your bookings now for Everest Base Camp Trek.
How did COVID-19 affect the tourism sector of Nepal?
Since Nepal is an underdeveloped country, tourism is one of the vital economic lifeline covering about 4% of country’s gross national product.
As for employment, the tourism industry has covered more than 3.5% of the nation’s total work. And the impact done by the pandemic in the tourism industry is huge which is described below with details.
Impact of COVID-19 during trekking seasons
Due to the full lockdown from March 24 which was Spring season-the second most popular time of the year for trekking experienced a painful year with very few incoming travelers.
Unwillingly Nepal government suspended all the travel, trekking, and mountaineering activities including all the international and domestic flights.
All those activities lead to losses for both parties canceling all the flights. Not only that, but those who were already in Nepal also had to stay stranded within the country.
But, later with the proper management from Nepal Tourism Board, all the stranded foreigners were safely returned back to their homeland via chartered flights.
As for now, the government of Nepal has made a huge decision to reopen tourism activities from 17th October. If the government is positive regarding tourism reopening then it is expected to see a large number of visitors in the coming days.
Impact of COVID-19 in Nepal Tourism
Covid-19, a global threat directly and egregiously affected the tourism sector of Nepal. The ongoing global pandemic forced all the tourism activities in Nepal including trekking, mountaineering, and so on to put a halt.
As a result, it wiped out billions of rupees in revenue from tourism and rendered tens of thousands of workers jobless.
Similarly, in 2020, Nepal was expecting to welcome 2,000,000 worldwide guests with the “Visit Nepal 2020” campaign, which soon had to be postponed due to the sudden increase of COVID-19 cases.
And in the present time, the tourism sector is already at a huge loss and it will take quite a while to restore back to normal which we are hoping in 2021.
Impact on Travel Agencies and Workers
According to Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal at least 350,000 people in the trekking, mountaineering and hotels and restaurant industries have been rendered jobless this year due to the impacts of Covid-19.
The Tourism Ministry has estimated that the industry incurred a loss of Rs.34 billion during the lockdown period, until June.
A country which relies heavily on tourism for revenue is closed for six months. On the other hand, WHO announced that the impact of COVID-19 will lasts for more than two years and in this case if the government lacks proper vision and management tourism industry is likely to be on the verge of collapse.
Tourism entrepreneur and local trekking agency owner Mr. Chin Bahadur Thapa Magar believes that a year-long lockdown is not an option. The tourism industry is different and should keep running by any means with proper plans, visions, and safety protocols. “My clients are regularly sending me emails and inquire about reservations for upcoming seasons, they want to hit the trekking trails asap,” said Chin. He added we have to be optimistic and always find a solution.
Since this year’s spring season was a complete loss, the locals from remote valleys such as the Manaslu region, the Dhaulagiri region, Dolpo region has to suffer a lot with zero income as there were not single travelers.
Many trekking operators, guides, and porters are also having a hard time adjusting their lifestyle and are waiting eagerly to reopen the tourism sector.
So, what do you think about this reopening of trekking and expeditions in Nepal? Are you excited to visit Nepal again and trek to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp or other regions?