Nepal Tourism Board conducts meeting on impacts of Coronavirus outbreak in tourism and aviation industry

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In the wake of the huge impact of WHO-declared pandemic – Coronavirus outbreak, which is spreading on a massive scale across the world and causing a huge loss in the sector of travel and tourism in the country since mid-February 2020, a meeting with the representatives of travel associations was organised at the Ministry of Defense, Singhadurbar on March 16. The meeting was graced by Deputy Prime Minister and High-level Committee Coordinator Ishwar Pokhrel and coordinated by the Nepal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation MOCTCA and concerned agencies.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai introduced agenda of the meeting, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nepal Tourism Board Dr Dhananjay Regmi briefed DPM Pokharel about the problems encountered by travel and hotel entrepreneurs. The demands and suggestions include as following:

– Making provision of Concessional Loan Facilities to all sectors of tourism like hotels, travel agency, tourist vehicle and all the other related tourism businesses

– Making provision for re-scheduling of the entire loan extended to the tourism sector and provide Concessional Demand-Loan for all. Also, make provision for the payment if the term loan including the principle after 1 year only

– Make provision to downsize the number of the current employees in tourism sector along with the creation of Relief Fund to be given to the employees (who lose their jobs) with 50% from Government’s Social Security Fund

– To maintain the momentum and to enhance the capacity of the human resource within the tourism sector, utilise the low period to provide the necessary training for the tourism manpower in coordination with NATHM. (NTB will coordinate with NATHM for such training along with related associations.)

– Make provision for a full refund of amounts of bookings in all tourism sectors (hotels, tickets, tours, etc.) which are cancelled due to the present crisis situation

– Make provision for 50% rebate in all taxes, revenues, annual vehicle taxes and other local taxes to be paid by all in the tourism sector. Also, make provision not to impose any penalty for a period of 1 year for such taxes

Speaking at the meeting, President of Airlines Operator Associations of Nepal (AOAN) Captain Rameshwor Thapa said the COVID-19 virus outbreak is going to impact the industry at least for a year. He also drew the government’s attention towards the domestic airline business going down with over 65% plus loss.

President of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) Shreejana Rana suggested that the government declare ‘commercial crisis’ in the country and demanded a relief package.

Similarly, the President of Nepal Mountain Association (NMA) Santabir Lama suggested that the Government could impart useful relevant training to the employees of the concerned business organisations during the crisis. In addition, Lama also said an effort to clean the mountain areas during this time would engage the relevant people and contribute to the expedition sector.

Likewise, President of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Khum Subedi informed that 80-82% trips and treks have been cancelled as of yet and urged the government that extra fund be provisioned for relief.

Addressing the meeting, DPM Pokharel said, “We all should unite and tackle the situation together.” Saying a high-level coordination committee has been assessing the impact of the pandemic and alertness the nation needs to adopt during this situation, DPM Pokharel assured of extending support to the travel and tourism entrepreneurs. Assigning the Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari to play a role of facilitator, he asked for specific points and suggestions which the government would study to set an action plan accordingly.