Coronavirus fear affects Everest Climbing Season

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Kathmandu: With the coronavirus outbreak showing no sign of abating, expedition operators in Nepal fear that the country was likely to suffer severe economic losses in the Everest climbing season that runs from March to May, it was reported.

According to operators, many climbers from China, the epicentre of the outbreak, have already started cancelling their expedition bookings after the disease has infected more than 80,000 people in nearly 50 countries, The Himalayan Times said in the report on Thursday.

Pasang Sherpa, managing director at Pioneer Adventure Treks, informed that seven Chinese members from his company dropped their plans to scale the world’s highest peak from Nepal side this season.

“Now, we can hardly expect climbers from China, Iran, South Korea, Japan and a few European countries, including Italy, among others,” Damber Parajuli, president of Expedition Operators Association Nepal, said.

Rishi Bhandari, managing director at Satori Adventure, said that Everest climbing season would certainly face a tough challenge if the government fails to introduce an immediate action plan to contain the COVID-19 threat.

“At least six Italian climbers who planned to scale Mt Everest from Tibet side have already cancelled their booking from my company,” he informed.

Sources said that China would not be opening its Tibet route in the spring season to allow Nepali operators for Mt Everest, Cho Oyu and Sishapangma expeditions.

“The country will certainly bear severe economic losses this season and it will have long term impact on the tourism businesses,” The Himalayan Times quoted Parajuli as saying.

Meanwhile, the Himalayan nation has already witnessed a 2 per cent drop in tourist arrivals in the first month of Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.

Of 381 members, at least 60 Chinese nationals had obtained climbing permits for Mt Everest in 2019.

The government levies $11,000 per person for foreign climbers for expeditions to Mt Everest during spring season, while Nepali climbers have to pay Rs 75,000 per person.

For other mountains above 8,000 metres, the government levies $1,800 on foreigners and Rs 10,000 for Nepali climbers.

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