Friday 14th June 2024
Friday 14th June 2024
गृहपृष्ठNepalExperts call for focus on regional tourism as Covid-19 poses barriers to long distance travel

Experts call for focus on regional tourism as Covid-19 poses barriers to long distance travel

Formation of a regional body suggested to work on the ease of travel between the countries in South Asia.

KATHMANDU :  Travel and tourism sector experts and leaders from South Asia have underlined the need to focus on promoting regional tourism to revive tourism in line with the new reality where there are severe barriers to long distance travel.

They also suggested creating a regional body to work on the ease of travel between the countries in South Asia. This was expressed by the speakers in a virtual meeting titled “Impact of COVID-19 on tourism and revival strategies of South Asian countries” organized by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE)in association with other half dozen organizations.

Yankila Sherpa, Former Minister of Tourism of Nepal and Advisor of Tourism Recovery Task Force, Nepal, noted that the first six months in 2020 have seen a 60 percent fall in global tourist arrivals. Countries like Maldives and Nepal, the latter having faced closure of 2600 trekking firms,are disproportionately impacted given the economic significance of the sector, Sherpa observed.

“Regional collaboration, for instance, on smooth movement, destination infrastructure upgrade, testing and exploiting regional tourism potential such as the Buddhist circuit, will aid in swift revitalization of tourism in South Asia,” said Sherpa, who is also part of Nepal’s Tourism Recovery Task Force.

Rupa Chanda, an academic from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB), observed how each actor in the tourism value chain, from trekking firms, porters and guides, a significant proportion of which are in the informal sector, have been dealt a body blow by the pandemic. Prof. Chanda suggested that while identifying and developing safe zones, including corridors, in the region, is a potential revival strategy, its effectiveness will hinge on whether COVID-19 safety rules are enforced.

Bhutan has been among the least affected countries from the COVID-19 not just in the region but also globally. Yet, since its source markets have been ravaged by the pandemic, Bhutan‘s travel and tourism sector has been severely affected. Dorji Dhradhul, Director-General, Tourism Council of Bhutan, said that with the pandemic, Bhutan’s low-volume high-value tourism strategy could be a model for other countries to follow.

Dhradhul observed that potential revival strategies in the sector should seriously consider issues like personal safety and health and that tourists will travel only if they perceive that destinations are safe.

On revival strategies, he highlighted that the key steps in Bhutan have been development and upgrade of physical as well as digital infrastructure such as contactless payment, skilling of tourism sector workers into providing better services and promotion of domestic promotion. On self-contained and isolated destinations, speakers from Bhutan and Nepal highlighted how rural mountainous areas could be a pull for tourists.

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