Kathmandu: Covid-19 pandemic crippled the entire tourism sector of Nepal for a long time. And now everyone is talking about how to revive it despite the persistence of the deadly contagion.
Keeping in view of the same thought of how to revive Nepal’s tourism, Nepal Institute of Development Studies, Climate Alliance for Himalayan Communities, Himalayan Climate Initiative, Public Youth Campus TU, and Highlights Tourism jointly organized a virtual dialogue recently under the banner of “Reviving Nepali Tourism with Prince of Bahrain and Qatar: Experiences of Kami Rita Sherpa”.
Rudra Sing Tamang, the Director-General of the Tourism Department was the chairman of the virtual dialogue. The key speaker of the virtual dialogue was Kami Rita Sherpa whose experience with Gulf princes was focused during the dialogue.
The virtual dialogue was also graced by the presence of distinguished guests of their excellencies such as Honorary consulate general of New Zealand for Nepal, Lisa Chhogyal, Honorary consulate general for Slovenia, Aswin Kumar Shrestha, and Bhutani tourism entrepreneur Dependra Giri who has 25 years of quality tourism.
The manifestation of Covid-19 forced the Nepal government to shut down the whole country that resulted in crippling the entire tourism sector that entirely depended upon the foreign tourists in the previous days.
However, despite the Covid-19 pandemic the Bahrain Prince Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa and his expedition team came to Nepal and Bahrain prince climbed Mt Lobuche and Manaslu. This was followed by Qatar Prince Moe All Thani climbing Mt. Amadablam.
The following is the narrative of Kami Rita Sherpa’s about his recent experience with Gulf princes for the revival of Nepal tourism.
Kami Rita Sherpa, World Record Holder Everest Summiter
Kami Rita Sherpa has climbed Mt Everest 24 times. He had joined the mountaineering sector at the age of 12 years. He had climbed the Meera peak for the first time.
Kami Rita who holds a world record for climbing Mt Everest 24 times, had to walk for three hours to reach his village school in his childhood days.
Kami Rita recalls his childhood days when Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norge Sherpa landed their steps on the crest of Mt Everest, and the Sherpas of the villages had got the chance to work in the tourism sector.
At the age of 12 years old, Rita Kami had to work as a porter for trekking after which he worked as an assistant guide, and finally the climbing guide.
1994 was his first attempt at Everest. He had helped the Qatari prince Thani to reach Ambadalam. Qatari and Bahrain Prince after their expeditions in Nepal had remarked, “Sherpas are the most sincere and most brave guides of Nepal. Our expeditions would not have been successful without the support of Sherpa guides.”
Similarly, the gulf princes also said, “The natural beauty is captivating in Nepal. Nepalese are good by nature and culture. Nepal is our second home. We will continue to climb peaks.”
“These gulf royal expeditions accomplished recently has boosted to revive Nepal’s tourism as in such a difficult situation we embarked upon the expedition which was the great achievement for us,” says Kami Rita.
After hearing the worldwide news about gulf princes having climbed peaks in Nepal many others have been encouraged and inspired to visit Nepal. “It is not the matter of only inviting tourists, experienced Sherpas, and guides at the same time should be available for experienced companies to promote tourism in Nepal,” says Rita.
He also said that companies in Nepal are not following uniform tourism rules. For any trekking and expedition company, a single guide should be mandatory while conducting any expedition.
The quality of the expedition has decreased. No trekking and mountaineering events should be allowed to be done without guides and Sherpas said, Kami Rita.
He further narrates that the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) should appreciate a guide license. If guides are not used then what is the use of the guide licenses.
To highlight tourism, new destination, new route, and new peaks should be opened. All the remote cornered peaks should be opened. All restrictions to forbidden areas should be opened for the tourists even they are individual tourists. Our strict regulations will not promote tourism and increase the number of tourists.
The government should focus on the need to hire guides. The rules about quarantine also should be relaxed. A separate PCR check system should be adopted for tourists.
There are many hidden peaks and places in Nepal. We have to think of how to push forward these places. If the current situation prevails, many guides will convert their professions into alternative professions.
It is the guides who play a crucial role in making the trekking and mountaineering good. Climbing Sherpa guides will be difficult to find in the future if the current difficult situation continues to prevail.
We work for the pride of Nepal. So the government should focus on guides. In India, one who climbs Everest is given all amenities including his livelihood facilities.
The Visit Nepal–2020 failed due to Covid-19. Just bringing tourists to Nepal is not enough. The guides also should be given priority. The institutions like MNA, TAAN should think of facilities for the tourists and guides. So that we can tell the fellow guides how the facilities are being offered to the guides and what it means to be a good guide professionally.
Visit Nepal in this situation is not going to prosper but decline in the future. We all should work together to revive Nepali tourism.
Rudra Sing Tamang, Director– General
Nepali communities should also be tourist-friendly. They should not lock down the communities just for one or two cases of Covid-19 when the tourists arrive in their villages. ‘It hampers their movement and leads to a series of aftermath effects in tourism’ he pointed.
I have been here in Nepal for a long time including my association with Tiger Tops as Marketing Director.
People who come here are not deterred to climb the peaks. They stay here for a long time. 86 peaks in Nepal remain unclimbed still. Nepali domestic tourism is going to be celebrated. Everest has always clicked for the tourists and mountaineers. 4.4 million dollars went to Everest the year before last spring.
In contrast, this year it was only seven expeditions and 28000 dollars was the total royalty earned this year. We did use celebrities to get the publicity of the peaks all over the world. We also had Hollywood stars/politicians for the publicity about Nepal tourism.
Every destination in the world is competing for dollars and we are raising expectations. We can continue to have mountaineering.
Aswin Kumar Shrestha
Slovenia has opened a mountaineering school in Manang, Nepal in 1979 for the porters and guides to promote tourism. Slovenia has the first man to summit Everest who skied down from Everest and the Slovenians are trying to bring more tourists to Nepal.
Every year I bring tourists to Nepal from Slovenia. I agree with Kami Rita that why should we enforce quarantine for tourists? It may be done in Lukla and Pokhara. Tourists think it is in vain to stay for a long time in quarantine.
There would be trekking areas in the eastern region too. Now, many Slovenians want to see new places in eastern Nepal while I am coordinating with NMA.
It is a great pleasure to be part of this dialogue. I could speak a few things about tourism in Bhutan. I fully agree with Kami Rita for the sustainability of tourism. Undercutting prices are important. So the tourism policies are already framed by the government in Bhutan. In the pricing of services, it is very positive in the operational manual.
To talk about the present scenario, we in Bhutan also have suffered from Covid-19 while rendering services in tourism
More than 50,000 people have been deprived of jobs and displaced. However, His Majesty of Bhutan has given a relief package to the jobless staff of tourism.
Bhutan is still looking for avenues to revive tourism. Domestic tourism was never thought of before.
We can only face challenges collectively. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity and challenges to be together to cope up with it. The tourism council in Bhutan regulates the tourism sector.
The visit of Qatari and Bahrain princes to Nepal has been a milestone for Nepali tourism to revive at a time when we and the government people were stuck up at what to do for the revival of tourism in Nepal.
It is our obligation to think of how to deal with mountain tourism by adopting safety measures. We expect that a conclusion made out of this virtual dialogue will help us to go a long way.
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