With the outbreak of coronavirus showing no sign of subsiding, many mountain climbers have already started cancelling their expedition bookings. This is a cause of concern to the tour operators who will have to bear severe economic losses during the climbing season that lasts from March to May.
Pasang Sherpa, managing director at Pioneer Adventure Treks, said that seven Chinese members from his company dropped their plans to scale the world's highest peak from Nepal side this spring season, The Himalayan Times reported.
"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 in Kathmandu on Thursday.
In addition, lack of government preparedness, as well as an action plan, has had an adverse impact on the country's tourism sector.
Rishi Bhandari, managing director at Satori Adventure, said that the Everest climbing season would certainly face a tough challenge if the government fails to introduce an immediate action plan to contain the coronavirus 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.
Nepal has already witnessed a two per cent drop in tourist arrivals in the first month of the visiting season this year.
Meera Acharya, director at the Department of Tourism, said that the government will soon hold discussions with the expedition operators and other concerned agencies about chalking out an action plan for the climbing season in spring.
In the last spring, the Department had collected a total of (Nepali) Rs 495 million from expedition royalty, including Rs 442 million from Everest expeditions.