8th November, 2020. Ireland-Nepal Chamber of Commerce (INCC), in collaboration with Europe-Nepal Chamber of Commerce for Tourism (ENCCT) organized the inaugural session of "Nepal Tourism Virtual Trade Mission" on Zoom. The focal point of this virtual trade mission was to connect businesses from Nepal and Europe via online platforms, building on and adding to existing links while networking ideas to aid in the rebuilding and expansion of the Tourism industry in Nepal.

Ms Alison Irwin, General Secretary of INCC opened the meeting with a summation of how the Pandemic has impacted tourism not just in Nepal but globally. She also pointed out that not only is it tourism being directly impacted but all the associated ancillary industries also. President of INCC Mr. Vincent Barry gave a brief overview of the event and the CEO and Vice-President of INCC Mr. Deepesh Shakya, who also serves as the coordinator of ENCCT initiative, followed with a detailed description of the main objective of today's event.

Respected delegates from various influential companies in the tourism industry were invited offer presentations on the current situation of Tourism and how it might be safely rejuvenated, post Covid.

The Speakers were:

· Mr Marcus Cotton, Co-owner and managing director of Tiger Mountain Resort, Pokhara

· Mr Abdallah Tuncer Kececi, Managing Director, Turkish Airlines, Kathmandu

· Mr Binayak Shah, 1st Vice president at Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) & Managing Director, Airport Hotel, Kathmandu

· Mr Bijay Amatya, CEO, Kora Tours, Nepal

Mr. Marcus Cotton, presented how the Lodge is the embodiment of Conscious Luxury Travel, where he mentioned, that the luxury is not viewing the gold plated taps but in experiencing the local environs. He also cited the sustainability actions they have been practicing and the services they have been providing to uplift the community which is a spectacular contribution to the tourism industry in Nepal. Having said that, he stated how the Pandemic now offers a perfect opportunity for change, rethink and rebuild in the tourism sector and to work towards improving sustainable and eco hospitality. He also pointed towards the need to aim for re-generative tourism which would give back to the Community and the Environment.

Mr. Abdullah Tunser Kececi, appealingly specified that Nepal is not just mountains; Nepal is much more than that. While many tourism agencies focus on the mountains, there are many other areas which should be promoted abroad to encourage cultural tourism to Nepal also. His motto is to show that an airline is not just an airline but it also has a role in cross marketing the countries in which it operates, thereby improving not only the airline’s position but also the tourism industry within that country be it via tourism entrepreneurs or trade activities. He further gave some information about how Turkish airline's been providing passenger-friendly, safe services even during the pandemic.

Mr. Binayak Shah presented the health and safety protocols being implemented at Airport Hotel to ensure that reviving the businesses during the pandemic can be done safely. He described how HAN is working with the government hand in hand to ensure this is carried out. He states, "This is the new normal." Mr Shah outlined that the safety of guests and staff in the hospitality sector must be prioritized going forward.

Mr. BijayAmatya, put forward an enticing idea of attracting ‘High Value Travelers’ by promoting the "Roadless travel" concept. He gave a picture of the current situation of tourism industry in Nepal amidst the pandemic. He listed a number of luxury destinations available to tourists who want to visit. He also stressed the potential in further building Nepal-Ireland commercial relations via virtual meetings and mentioned that it would open a new corridor and new opportunities for trade and tourism between the two countries.

In conclusion, INCC CEO Mr. Deepesh Man Shakya wrapped up the event by acknowledging and thanking all the speakers. He requested the meeting attendees to suggest ideas to enhance the virtual platform for a business connection. He said that the date for the second episode of Nepal Tourism Virtual Trade Mission will be announced later this month.

The organizers will be welcoming interest from tourism businesses both in Europe and Nepal to come and present at the future episodes of the event to promote their business and to connect with business in Europe and vice versa.