Nepal on Thursday started evacuating tourists, a day after the government announced to facilitate the return of thousands of foreigners stranded in the country due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Dhananjay Regmi, Chief Executive of Nepal’s Tourism Board, told newsmen that an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 foreigners, including a few dozen Germans, are currently stuck in various parts of the country.
Exact data was to be compiled in coordination with travel and trekking agencies as well as embassies.
“We have already brought a few hundred tourists to Kathmandu, while some are on their way there,’’ Regmi said.
Trekking agencies, however, complained that they were not receiving proper support from the government.
“The government isn’t even arranging the vehicles to bring them back,’’ Rajkumar Thapa, a trekking agent, who is trying to bring back clients from the Annapurna Base Camp Area, said.
Thapa added that around 300 tourists are still waiting to be evacuated from that area.
All major embassies in Kathmandu have urged their citizens to contact them as Nepal remains in a lockdown.
Dandu Raj Ghimire of the Tourism Department said several factors, including lack of coordination and updated information hindered the rescue operations.
“Many other tourists travel solo without the help of an agency,’’ he added.
On Monday, Nepal announced a nationwide lockdown restricting citizens’ movements to the bare minimum and granting powers to authorities to hand out jail sentences to those refusing to comply.
The lockdown is to remain in place until March 31
photo credit: google