KATHMANDU, March 15: The Government is planning to cancel the Visit Nepal Year 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 152,428 people worldwide and killed 5,720.
According to high places sources, the government is making a decision in this regard this week.
The proposal to cancel the VNY 2020 will be taken to the next meeting of the Council of Ministers, the source added.
Nepal–which is amongst the world’s top 15 tourist destinations, according to Oxford Journal of Travel Medicine– and had targeted to bring 2 million tourists in 2020 but the global pandemic has blown cold air to the country’s tourism hopes.
The government, earlier this month, canceled the VNY 2020 promotion campaign owing to its spread globally.
The government on Friday suspended visa-on-arrival for all the foreign nationals effective from March 14 to April 30 as a precautionary measure to cope with the pandemic. Countries across the have enforced travel restrictions to contain the outbreak.
The government also suspended all the permits for mountaineering expeditions issued and to be issued for the spring 2020 season for the time being. The move came after China closed its mountain from its side.
Nepal, which earns 4.4 million dollars every year for climbing permits, has issued only five permits so far, none of them are for Everest.
Nepal attracted 1.19 million tourists in 2019. Among them, 254,150 were Indian tourists, 169,543 were Chinese, followed by 93, 213 from the US, 61144 from the United Kingdom, 55,869 from Sri Lanka, 41,653 from Thailand, 38,972 from Australia, 36641 from Germany, 36,247 from Myanmar and 30,646 from France according to the Department of Immigration.
Nepal had hoped to bring more than 300 thousand tourists from China this year. But the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan — which killed 3204 people in China and infected more than 81,000 — Nepal’s high hopes of bringing Chinese tourists suffered a hammer blow.
But, as China recovered from the virus since it first emerged on Dec 31 last year, it has spread to over 141 countries.
India, which topped the arrival list last year, also enforces travel restrictions as the country reported 84 confirmed cases and two deaths, the highest number in South Asia.
Likewise, Spain has locked down its citizens and France has closed its nightlife to contain the spread of the virus.
The number of confirmed cases has climbed to 5,753 in Spain with the death toll reaching 136.
In France, the death toll from the virus has reached 91 and 4,469 have been infected.
Italy remains the worst-hit region in Europe and second beside China in the world with 212,157 confirmed cases and 1,441 deaths.
Germany has reported eight deaths and 3,795 confirmed cases.
The United States has seen 41 deaths and 1,678 confirmed cases has also imposed a travel ban on European countries.
(COVID-19 Data source: WHO)