Visitors come back, but climbing Makkah makes Nepal even more so

Annapurna mountain. Aaron Benson / Wikimedia Commons

Kathmandu – Nepal is setting a spin in a 21st century tourism sector that has been influenced by unchanged activities for generations as it looks to stimulate a significant part of an economy. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Epidemics and rising import bills.

As part of a broader plan to lure more tourists to the homes of eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, authorities are promoting bungee jumping, paragliding and skydiving on top of traditional trekking and climbing, said Taranath Adhikari, director general of the tourism department.

“We are adding new tourism infrastructure and increasing investment in hotels (besides),” he told Reuters in the capital, Kathmandu.

The country has also called on its envoys to promote tourism, promised to ease visa rules and asked China to allow more people to visit despite the Covid ban.

Nepal suspended climbing and trekking in early 2020 due to the epidemic, and Mr Adhikari called the rate at which visitors were “inspiring” again.

In the first quarter of 2022, foreign arrivals more than doubled to about 79,000 a year, and he said he expected recovery to continue in the coming months.

However, the numbers remain less than half of the pre-epidemic level, while rising import prices, including crude, edible oil and coal, have put the economy at even greater risk of being hit.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government imposed a complete ban on imports of some luxury goods, including cars, until mid-July amid declining foreign exchange reserves and rising debt.

Whatever it is, hotel owners are ready for the hope of a revival of tourism.

Binayak Shah of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) says the country can now accommodate 2.5 million visitors, more than double the 2019 record of 1.2 million.

‘The Worst Behind Us’
Although tourism is Nepal’s most famous industry, it is far from the largest source of income, accounting for about 5% of the foreign exchange reserves compared to about 60% of remittances sent by Nepalese working abroad.

They were also left out during the epidemic because many expatriates were forced to return home, with many of its 29 million citizens suffering.

In mountainous areas that rely heavily on tourism, about 80% lost their income during epidemics and trekking bans, and according to industry estimates, about 3,500 tourism-dependent enterprises have closed in the Thames area of ‚Äč‚ÄčKathmandu alone.

Although tourists have retreated, concerns remain.

Neighboring India and China attract more visitors than anywhere else, and both countries are taking steps to stem the tide of cowardice.

With an economy of 36 36 billion, Nepal has recorded less than 50 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths in more than a month. So far 66.8% of its population has been fully vaccinated.

“I’m fully vaccinated … Nepal is a safe place,” Catherine Lusley, a 65-year-old Swiss tourist, told Reuters on the naturally crowded streets of the Thames.

He has been a regular visitor to Nepal since 1998, and is preparing to travel to the mountains again near Mount Annapurna, the 10th highest peak in the world.

The Ukraine conflict has also discouraged tourists from there and from Russia, while air fares and other costs are rising.

Despite the dizziness, some restaurant and hotel owners are waiting for a better time.

Aging Dhaka, 47, who has been running a souvenir shop in Thames for 30 years, says most people in the business think they have the worst behind them. “Nepal’s black era of tourism seems to be over.” – Gopal Sharma And Hands Kumar / Reuters

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