Countries scramble to retrieve tourists stranded in Asia

World Saturday 28/March/2020 17:21 PM
By: Times News Service
Countries scramble to retrieve tourists stranded in Asia

Germany and other foreign governments stepped up their efforts to repatriate thousands of holiday makers who are currently stuck in remote locations across South Asia and Southeast Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, a Qatar Airways flight chartered by the German government evacuated over 300 people from Nepal, the majority of whom were German nationals.

Berlin plans to fly out another set of tourists from Nepal on Saturday, a news agency reported. The Australian Embassy in Nepal also said it was trying to arrange a special flight.

Mount Everest trekkers awaiting flights

Nepal, which has restricted all international flights coming into the country till April 1, is currently in talks with several countries to evacuate an estimated 10,000 tourists.

"We don't have information about a flight back to Belgium yet," Elka Wallraf, a teacher stranded in the village of Phakding near Mount Everest, told a news agency.

Lukla Airport, the only airport connecting tourists to the Mount Everest, currently has over 200 trekkers stuck at the airport, Dhurba Shrestha, an airport official, told a news agency.

Some tourists in Nepal are being given temporary reprieve by hotels, which are giving free lodging and meals.

Thousands stuck

Thousands of others are stranded across Asia, from Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, New Zealand to India.

The US plans to evacuate its nationals in Pakistan next week, while France and Germany are currently negotiating charter planes to evacuate their nationals from India.

"I get text messages from my parents and my friends every day and all day and they're all asking when are we returning home but we don't know and they don't know and we all have to wait", Susi Vormwald, a German national stranded in New Zealand, told a New Zealand-based radio channel.

About 17,000 foreign tourists in Sri Lanka are being allowed to use their cancelled flight tickets as passes to use within a countrywide lockdown. The Indonesian government has automatically extended visas for all tourists stranded in Indonesia.