More Nepalis visit Mt. Qomolangma region as less foreign tourists travel due to COVID-19

Publish Time: 2020-10-26 Author: From: Xinhua

KATHMANDU, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- An increasing number of Nepalis are visiting Qomolangma region, one of the most popular destinations for mountaineering and trekking, after the airlines started offering package to promote domestic tourism.

With foreign tourists no longer coming to Nepal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airlines, affected badly by pandemic, started to offer attractive package for Nepali visitors to go to the Mt. Qomolangma region, paving the way for increased flow of domestic tourists in the region.

Mt. Qomolangma is the world's tallest mountain which borders Nepal and China.

"Before the COVID-19 related restrictions, almost all flights to Mt. Qomolangma region used to be occupied by foreign tourists," Yograj Kandel, spokesperson of the Airline Operators Association of Nepal, told Xinhua on Friday. "Now the situation has reversed with around 98 percent of the airline seats are booked by Nepalis."

A number of the Nepali airlines have announced affordable package for Nepali visitors. "Two to three flights are taking place from Kathmandu to Lukla, close to Mt. Qomolangma, every day by carrying mostly Nepali visitors in the recent days," he said. As per the package, they first go to Lukla Airport and travel upward to Namche Village.

"Many Nepali visitors observe the Himalayas including Mt. Qomolangma by helicopters," Kandel, who is also the CEO of Heli Everest, a helicopter service providing company. "At least three helicopter companies including ours are involved in organizing sightseeing for Nepali visitors in the Mt. Qomolangma region."

Summit Air is an airline company which is conducting regular flight to Lukla from Kathmandu in the recent days. "We have offered a package for Nepali visitors and based on which, we are conducting flights to Lukla," Suman Pandey, director of the airline company, told Xinhua on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality, the local government of the Mt. Qomolangma region has urged the airlines and helicopter companies not to bring people from outside the village for the time being due to infections to some locals with coronavirus.

In a letter sent to the airlines and helicopter companies operating the village, the rural municipality has asked them stop bringing people outside the rural municipality starting from Friday until another notice is issued.

Such decision of the rural municipality has come at a time when the Nepali government has allowed foreign tourists to visit Nepal for mountaineering and trekking purpose starting from Oct. 17. But, airlines operators said the local government has not obstructed the scheduled flights to the regions so far.

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