After all, there is still a small spark of hope for an at least modest fall season in the Himalayas. According to the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism, it is planning to allow foreign and domestic flights again from 1 August – subject to safety requirements. Due to the corona lockdown, all flights to and in Nepal are still prohibited until at least 5 July. Since the beginning of the week, the government has been processing visa applications again – first of all, however, to extend the visas of foreigners living in Nepal.
The tourism industry in Nepal is threatened with collapse because of the corona crisis – as reported several times. In the Khumbu, the region around Mount Everest, about 80 percent of the people live from mountain tourism, according to the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). This spring there was no income at all. Hundreds of Nepalese trekking agencies, as well as lodges and restaurants in the mountain regions, are likely to be on the brink of ruin when their financial reserves are exhausted and the business collapses in fall too.
The largest Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summits Treks says it is planning expeditions to Mount Everest and the eight-thousanders Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and Cho Oyu in the upcoming fall season, “if the situation allows”. But who will come?
In Germany warning for long distance travels
European operators of trips to Nepal are already focusing their attention on spring 2021, as their clients will largely forego long-haul journeys this year due to the corona pandemic. In Germany, for example, the government continues to warn against unnecessary tourist travel to destinations outside Europe due to COVID-19.
Pakistan allows flights into the country
From today on, the Pakistani government has allowed the resumption of international flights into the country under certain conditions – but primarily to bring back around 200,000 Pakistani citizens from abroad. The summer season in the Karakoram is – looking at objectively – over. And even if it is extended into the fall, very few mountaineers and trekkers from abroad are likely to travel to the mountainous regions in northern Pakistan. Fear of the coronavirus is still too great as long as there is no vaccine.
Still no end of the pandemic in sight
In both Pakistan and Nepal, the curve of corona infections is currently pointing steeply upwards. According to the Johns Hopkins University in the USA (as of 20 June), more than 170,000 COVID-19 cases have been registered in Pakistan to date, and almost 3,400 people have died. In Nepal, the number of infections rose to more than 8,600; 22 deaths were reported. The number of unreported cases is likely to be high in both countries. The corona pandemic is far from over. As difficult as it is, it will require further patience. Not only in Nepal and Pakistan.