Yogesh Bhattarai, Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. (File Photo)
KATHMANDU: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is charting out strategies to restore tourism industry which has been adversely affected by the global pandemic of coronavirus.
Minister for Tourism Yogesh Bhattarai informed that the Ministry has been seeking all possible ways to uplift the tourism sector which has been bearing the brunt of novel coronavirus crisis.
In a video conference organized on Monday by the Society of Economic Journalists Nepal (SEJON), Minister Bhattarai pledged to identify and assess real impact of the crisis on tourism business and come up with new plans and measures to restore it.
A three-member team comprising Ministry’s joint-secretary Ghanashyam Upadhya, Nepal Tourism Board’s chief executive officer Dr Dhananjay Regmi and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal’s executive director Rajan Pokhrel is working to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism sector.
The model of relief packages will be determined being based on the findings of the study, according to the Minister.
Stating that talks were ongoing with the Ministry of Finances and National Planning Commission to address the financial crisis induced due to the ongoing lockdown, the Minister said that the agendas raised now could be addressed in the next budget session.
According to him, the government was doing homework to mobilize the labourers in tourism sector in alternative activities.
He added that such labourers could be deployed for cleaning of the mountains, trekking trials and construction of foot trails among other activities.
Similarly, former CEO of Nepal Tourism Board Deepakraj Joshi spoke of the need to formulate a three-year master plan to reinvigorate the tourism sector hit by the COVID-19 fallout.
He viewed, “The government should revitalize the tourism sector in collaboration with the private sector. The government should aim at saving the tourism sector in 2020 and revitalize it sector by 2021 and expanding the tourism activities by 2022.”
Calling for reforms at policy level for the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, he asserted that the budget of other ministries could be used to spend on the revitalization of the tourism sector.
The former CEO also underlined the need for the government to devise a manual mechanism for ensuring safety and security in all sectors at this juncture of pandemic.
Likewise, Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN)’s second Vice-President Prabin Pandey pointed out the need to use the social development fund set by the private sector to save enterprises.
According to him, the government should prioritize promotion of local tourism after the lockdown is lifted as he said, chances of arrival of the foreign tourists would be lesser in the wake lockdown lift.