Nepal’s tourism and aviation sector incurs loss of Rs 34 billion during lockdown

Kathmandu / July 3: The tourism and aviation sector of Nepal has incurred an estimated loss of Rs 34 billion during the period of lockdown, according to a report produced by a committee formed by the government to study the loss incurred by the sector due to the enforcement of lockdown following COVID-19 outbreak in different parts of the world.

Nepal’s tourism and aviation sector has been hard hit by the worldwide travel restriction, bringing the tourism and aviation business to a halt. The committee consisting of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) representatives indicated that the industry might have sustained an average of Rs 10 billion loss per month. The loss is projected to swell by an extra Rs 7 billion as of July 22.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has submitted the details to the National Planning Commission to study the loss. The government has set up a Rs 50 billion fund for the COVID-19 affected tourism industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The fund will be set up for the sectors to provide loans at five percent interest rate for both operation of industries and payment of salaries to the workers.

A total of Rs 200 million has been allocated from the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2020/21 to work on the rehabilitation program and on the concept of sustainable tourism development, according to the ministry.

The government recently issued an ‘Operational Guideline with Health Protocol for Tourism Sector’ prepared by NTB. The protocol has been prepared for the reopening of the tourism industry as companies will need to implement workplace safety protocols, which could include providing masks, maintaining social distancing, physical workspace modifications, and screening and tracing protocols.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai said that only opening up businesses is not enough, there should be preparation on how to operate and provide safe services to the people. “We have issued the protocol for the tourism industry to follow to make tourism related businesses safe and reliable,” he said, adding “Protocol for the aviation sector is ready and the airlines operators along with airport operators will follow them when the service resumes.”

According to the ministry, the time limit for filing VAT for hotels has been extended from two months to four months. The ministry has recommended a 75 percent discount on aircraft parking fee and 50 percent discount on acquiring license and license renewal fee to the government.

The government has extended the fee payment period to Nepal Electricity Authority and NTB and has waived off additional fees or penalties.

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