The Nepali government announced that it has decided to postpone international tourism promotional activities that it had planned as a part of the Visit Nepal Year-2020 campaign. According to reports, the activities were postponed due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak as it has killed over 3,000 people globally.
As per reports, the small Himalayan country wished to attract almost two million foreign tourists in 2020, almost double the number of foreign tourists compared to 2019. According to the department of immigration, 1.19 million foreign tourists had visited Nepal in 2019. Unfortunately, this recent occurrence is a major setback for Nepal, a country that heavily relies on tourism, as per reports.
Reports have also indicated that planned promotional campaigns scheduled at the Berlin Tourism Fair in Germany was called off as the fair itself was cancelled by the organisers amid growing coronavirus fears. Even the planned promotional events in China have been cancelled.
According to Bishwombher Ghimire, the program coordinator at the Visit Nepal Year Secretariat, the Nepali government's priorities have now shifted from attracting tourists to improving Nepal's infrastructure in order to handle a large influx of foreign tourists when the coronavirus situation gets better.
As per reports, Nepal's biggest hope for meeting its quota of foreign tourists lies with the arrival of tourists from India and China, the two largest sources of tourism for Nepal. As per the immigration office of Nepal, in 2019 Nepal had attracted 254,150 Indian tourists and 169,543 Chinese tourists. But following the coronavirus outbreak, flights between China and Nepal have been suspended and this will greatly affect the inflow of Chinese tourists this year.
Deepak Raj Joshi, former Chief Executive Officer at the Nepal Tourism Board, the tourism promotion body of Nepal, said that this is not a time for Nepal to focus on the loss of tourism but to show solidarity with their Chinese partners and also to think of creative ideas that might make good post-crisis marketing strategies. Nepal has so far quarantined four people, three of whom have returned from South Korea and China, and one who showed symptoms of COVID-19.
(With Inputs from ANI)