April general strike to hit tourism

Tourism entrepreneurs are apprehensive that bandh and general strike called by the 30-party alliance will adversely affect tourism in the spring season, though hundreds of mountaineers and climbers are likely to arrive here early next month from around the world.The UCPN-Maoist-led alliance of agitating parties yesterday announced a bandh for April 2 and three-day general strike starting on April 7 when mountaineers usually arrive in Nepal to scale Mt Everest and other peaks.

“The climbers who witnessed government’s indecision on permit extension for a year will now be compelled to bear the brunt of general strikes when they arrive,” Damber Parajuli, president, Expedition Operators’ Association of Nepal, said, adding that most mountaineering expeditions begin in the first 10 days of April.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, president, Nepal Mountaineering Association, said foreign climbers who closely follow media reports and travel warnings issued by the diplomatic missions were more concerned about the impact of general strikes and possible breakout of violence. He urged the organisers to call off bandh. Any disruption will certainly have a long-term negative impact on country’s tourism sector, as mountaineers invest thousands of dollars to prepare themselves for climbing, said tourism entrepreneur Jeeban Ghimire, who handles climbers from US-based Alpine Ascents. “We have no concrete answer to the climbers who have been enquiring about the possible consequences, as parties’ had made a commitment not to call such strikes,” he said.

Pemba Gyalje Sherpa, president, Nepal National Mountain Guide Association, said spring climbing was the only source of income for families of mountaineering guides and support staff, urging the parties not to resort to strikes for their petty interests.

Strikes and shutdowns get reported worldwide and impact decisions of people whether or not to visit Nepal, according to Martin Coleman, a Colorado-based climber. “Strikes, and the violence that accompanies them, aren’t good for my plan to spend months in Nepal. Nor are they good for the Nepali people,” he told this daily.

According to an estimate by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, country suffers loss of more than two billion rupees a day. A study by the central bank states that a two-day general strike pushes the monthly inflation to nine per cent, while three or more days’ general strike causes the monthly inflation to remain above 10 per cent.

Source: THT