Deepak Raj Joshi, former CEO of NepalTourism Board and a voice of the Nepal tourism industry has expressed the opinion that the ongoing border issues between India and Nepal would not impact the travel and tourism relations between the two countries. He expressed the hope that all disputes between the two countries will be resolved through political and diplomatic dialogues once the atmosphere of fear due to the pandemic is settled down.
Joshi was speaking to ET Travel World on the prospects of bilateral and regional travel in the post-pandemic situation. “Nepal will continue to attract Indian tourists irrespective of the ongoing disputes. These disputes will be resolved and Indians will continue to visit Nepal like before,” he said, ruling out any glitches in travel and tourism relationships.
“Tourism is a binding force for people, communities and businesses in many countries in the world. People to people relationships are quite strong between the two countries,” he added.
Joshi, who recently joined as member of the a new tourism initiative called Project Hope Travel, a public-private-partnership headed by former UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai established to share ideas, initiatives for a new reality of the travel and tourism industry after COVID-19, has said that there are variety of reasons why Nepal will continue to charm Indian tourists. Nepal is less impacted by the pandemic, it is the closest international destination and it offers a variety of experiences in a small area.
He expects a staggered opening of destinations starting from July 5 when borders are expected to open. The industry is in the process of finalising the safety and hygiene protocols for the service providers and the framework will be ready soon, he said. Once the SOPs are finalised, the training process will begin, he informed.
As Nepal has no domestic tourism base, Joshi expects the government to open the borders for Indian and Bangladeshi tourists along with easing of lockdown restrictions for domestic travel. Joshi said that there is a strong bonding in the travel trade in the region which will make the tourism recovery faster in the region.
There is a lot of potential for regional tourism in the region which sends out 30 million travellers and receives only 22 million tourists, he said. For regional travel to happen, there should be a simple visa system and easy system of currency convertibility in the region, he observed.