First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: The government had earlier announced it would allow all tourism related activities including mountaineering in the autumn season to resume. With this announcement, the mountaineering sector of the country had assumed that the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic would soon normalize.
Even the Department of Tourism was preparing to operate expeditions in the autumn season.
However, the increasing threat of the virus in the country has once again disappointed the mountaineering sector.
“The government’s announcement to let tourism activities to resume had delighted us, however the recent threat of the pandemic has made expeditions in the autumn season uncertain,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). The COVID-19 pandemic had affected the sector since the autumn season of 2019. Workers have remained jobless for the last one year as mountaineering activities were halted considering the need to maintain health safety precautions.
However, both workers and expedition operators were hopeful that things would get back to normal by the autumn season. “After the government announced it would allow resumption of tourist activities we started preparing to conduct expeditions in the autumn season even though we had less hope of receiving a large number of climbers,” Lama said.
The government is preparing to resume international flights soon,however, no tourists will be allowed to travel to Nepal. Moreover, the government has also made it mandatory for people arriving in the country to stay in quarantine for seven days. Thus, NMA President Lama believes that there is no hope for autumn.
“We are receiving calls from clients and a few were looking forward to coming in the autumn season. But the recent announcement made by the government has hit the travel season,” he said. “However, health is above everything else, so keeping that in mind no expedition will be operated this autumn season,” Lama added.
Lama further stated that it would be difficult for the mountaineering sector to resume activities even if they were to follow the health protocols. “The operators are now preparing for the spring season and hopefully everything will be okay by 2021,” he said.
Meanwhile, the plight of the mountaineering workers has still not been addressed by the concerned authorities. Even though the government had announced it would arrange alternative jobs for the workers, there is no sign of relief till date. Although Nepal Tourism Board has proposed a few programs for job retention in association with the United Nations Development Program, the workers are not satisfied with the project.
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