Kathmandu: The Nepal government is planning to resume domestic and international flight operations from next month with the country making steady progress in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
The Tourism Ministry is working on a tentative plan to start domestic flights from August 5 and international flights from August 17, an official close to Minister Yogesh Bhattarai told PTI. The first round of flights will be to and from capital Kathmandu, he said.
The number of active coronavirus cases in Nepal dropped to about 6,000 this week, while the recovery rate remains impressive at 64.85 per cent. In total, the Himalayan nation has reported 17,344 COVID-19 cases.
The Tourism Ministry will recommend the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre — headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel — to resume flight operations from next month, the official said.
A cabinet decision is required to resume the flight services. The Nepal government had suspended air travel in the third week of March to contain the spread of the virus. However, charter flights were operated to deliver medical equipment and for repatriation.
In the last week, Nepal witnessed more cases of recovery than the number of new infections.
The resumption of air services is expected to give a much-needed boost to the tourism industry which has struggled due to the pandemic. Thousands of Nepalese in the tourism sector have lost jobs and many enterprises have shut shop.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2018 report, Nepal’s tourism sector directly and indirectly employs about 10.5 lakh people, generating revenue of over 24,000 crore Nepali Rupees.
In total, the travel and tourism sector contributed about 7.9 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
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