We have to live along with COVID, and the government should not restrict the businesses following the precaution measures.
Keeping in mind the possibility of lockdown and its effect on the entire tourism industry, Yunish Dahal from Nepal Traveller had a virtual Interview with the President of Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents(NATTA).
Is NATTA working on any programs for relief and comfort of travel agents?
After lockdown, we started exploring possible opportunities and our focus currently is in domestic tourism. We, along with NTB, have an interaction program with our fellow members from 13th to 15th in the State no. 1 and 2. We also started our offices in state no. 6 and 2, finished a modern building and have been working along with NTB, Tourism ministry and Nepal Rastra Bank. I personally have been going around the country to train and inform agents on developing itineraries and developing destinations for domestic tourists.
Travel agents pressured the government to loosen the restrictions, now that things have turned hard everyone is set to blame the government. What do you have to say about this?
We have to live along with COVID, and the government should not restrict the businesses following the precaution measures. I am against restrictions and lockdowns and not just me, the whole tourism agents are. The safety protocols are if regulated properly, the government should be helpful and let the economy keep flowing so, many agents won't have to back out from the business.
If not followed the precautions, travel won't be fun and also the chance of spreading the virus will increase. Do you think that may just boost the possibility of another lockdown?
We have been seeing many government officials and leaders break the regulations. How can you expect the private sector to keep up with such loose and unregulated rules. If the government wants to put up a proper restriction, they should monitor and regulate. This is just a show off by the government. With current scenarios, the restrictions are set to fail. They shouldn’t halt all the economic activities and hurt the businesses. You have to understand that the private sector is doing their best but even the national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines has not followed proper regulations. This is absolutely unacceptable.
How long do you think until the tourism industry comes back to its feet again?
If the government keeps setting restrictions and regulations for very minute reasons, and puts out scary news, creating negative promotions in the International market, then it is hard to predict. Otherwise, we will be rolling by September/October of 2022. In the meantime, we can grow domestic tourism and create business.
Any programs to attract the new entrepreneurs in the tourism industry after the COVID-19 fades away?
We have been requesting the government and tourism board to focus on this matter. Many business personals have rerouted to other businesses and some are in a verse too. The Government must help these agencies in extending the loan payment, renewing and other matters. Currently we are focused on the license renewing and awareness programs and all our hopes rely on the next step from the government.
The interview was taken before the announcement of Prohibitions.
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