The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has stressed the need to devise a new strategy for sustainable tourism that addresses the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board held an interaction with various donor agencies and diplomatic missions on Friday to discuss the Sustainable Tourism for Livelihood Recovery Project (STLRP) it is implementing in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
On the occasion, Chief Executive Officer of NTB Dr .Dhananjay Regmi shared various activities NTB carried out in the midst of the pandemic. “We actively carried out tourist search and rescue, worked to promote domestic tourism and continuously updated the travel protocol,” Regmi said. “NTB’s work won it the UK’s Wanderlust Gold Award for its response to COVID-19,”he added.
On the occasion, Regmi also urged all partners and stakeholders to support Nepal’s tourism during this difficult situation created by the pandemic.
According to the NTB, STLRP has provided short-term employment to nearly 6,000 tourism workers and helped build and renovate 19 hiking routes, 15 kilometres of cycling tracks, 132 kilometres of foot trails, six tourist shelters and 18 wooden bridges. The project has been implemented in partnerships with 38 local levels of 23 districts.
Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labé, resident representative of UNDP Nepal, praised the work being done by NTB for the tourism sector. Shedding light on the objectives of STLRP, she said that such a project was necessary to mitigate the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the sector. She also informed that the UNDP was working with the governments of Gandaki and Sudurpashchim provinces to develop tourism in their respective regions.
On 11 December 2020, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have jointly launched a new project ”Sustainable Tourism for Livelihood Recovery” to support the recovery of Nepal’s tourism, one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The US$ 2 million project to be co-funded by NTB and UNDP will create short-term jobs for the affected communities, particularly women and people from disadvantaged groups, whose livelihood is dependent on tourism. NTB and UNDP signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The project aims to create 1,600 jobs through construction and improvement of small tourism infrastructures, including trekking trails, tourism information centre, waste management system and renovation of cultural heritage sites in selected tourist hotspots, including the Everest and Annapurna regions.
Implemented through NTB, the two-and-a-half-year project is expected also to initiate activities to support the long-term revival of the tourism sector by creating sustainable jobs and livelihood opportunities in partnership with the private sector; developing human resource capacity; supporting the creation of tourism-based enterprises; strengthening sector-related data and information management and digitalization; and articulating a comprehensive tourism recovery strategy. The project will help in strengthening the institutional capacity of the NTB through the formulation of a comprehensive tourism recovery strategy, as well as through increased digitization and other efforts for future disaster risk management.
The project comes after the success of a similar initial micro programme between NTB and UNDP, which started earlier in March 2020 as the global pandemic created worldwide threat and traveling had come to a standstill. The micro programme already implemented in five different tourism areas across the country has employed 250 local people from the tourism workforce for upgrade and maintenance of major popular tourism trails and sites. (By R. P. Narayan)