Mountain guide: Nepal needs to act fast to salvage Everest tourism business

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2019   •   2817

Camping tents on the way to Everest| Courtesy: Rizza Alee/Reuters

An experienced New Zealand mountain guide on Thursday (May 30) warned Nepalese authorities to act quickly to resolve the overcrowding and fatalities on the world’s highest mountain to keep the lucrative tourism business going.

Russell Brice, a mountaineer who came to Nepal in 1974 and has since then created a name for himself by helping over 400 climbers safely climb Mount Everest together with his organization, noticed many of the climbers today are not experienced and without proper gear.

He believes restricting the crowd to allow only the experienced climbers would reduce the numbers by 50 percent and curb down casualties.

“The authorities need to get to understand that we need proper mountaineering experience, proper altitude experience before we allow people on to Everest. If we do that, we will reduce the number of people there by 50 percent immediately,” he said.

“The people that are causing the problems are the ones without the experience, causing the traffic jams, causing the fatalities, making bad publicity and so it goes on. so we have been warning the ministry about this for a long, long time but no one takes any notice,” he added.

Over 381 climbers were permitted to scale the summit from the Nepali side this season, while 130 others were tackling Everest from the mountain’s northern side in Tibet.

Eleven people have already died in this year’s climb on both the Nepali and Tibetan sides, mostly due to exhaustion.

“The type of climber we are getting is getting less and less experienced,” Brice said.

“Our expeditions, we ask the people to climb another 8,000-metre peak before coming to Everest so that they can actually enjoy it much better. But they have expedition experience, they have the experience of how to camp, how to cook, how to climb, how to deal with the cold and the wind, and things like these,” he added.

The route, also called the South Col route, was pioneered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. About 5,000 people have scaled the Everest summit so far and about 300 have died on its slopes. (REUTERS)

Philippines to lift travel ban on 10 countries starting September 6

UNTV News   •   September 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to lift the current travel restrictions on travelers from 10 countries starting September 6, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced in a statement on Saturday.

These countries are namely:  India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Nonetheless, international travelers coming from the said countries shall comply with the appropriate entry, testing and quarantine protocols, depending on the country’s approved “listing,” Roque said.

He added that the IATF has adopted the “Yellow” and “Red” classifications, in addition to the “Green List” countries/jurisdictions/territories.

Roque said this is based on the countries’ respective incidence rates and case counts as primary criteria, and testing data as secondary criteria.  The incidence rate is the cumulative new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population while case counts are cumulative new cases over the past 28 days.

The government first imposed the travel restrictions on India in April then later expanded to include more countries to stem the spread of Delta variant, the highly transmissible strain of COVID-19.

 

Afghanistan Crisis: OFWs escape to Dubai, Qatar with help from employers

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Relatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Afghanistan confirmed with UNTV that their family members have reached Dubai safely after narrowly escaping the unrest in the Taliban-controlled country.

From Dubai, they are expected to return home to the Philippines soon.

On Tuesday (August 18), 35 Filipinos arrived in the Philippines from Afghanistan.

Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are around 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Joseph Glenn Gumpal, who acts as president of the Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan, said 11 more Filipinos have already made it to Qatar with the help of their employers.

UNTV was able to get in touch with other stranded Filipinos in Afghanistan whose fates remain uncertain after a series of flight cancellations.

Among them is Rio Adrias, who confirmed that they are in constant communication with the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in the Afghan country.

The only problem, Rio said, was that the chartered flight that they were supposed to board on Tuesday was canceled and they were told that they would need to take a commercial flight.

“Hindi pa rin po namin malaman kung kailan makakalapag ang eroplano dito sa Kabul kasi puno pa rin po ng tao ang Kabul airport. Hindi pa rin po lumilikas nasa 10,000 Afghan po ang naghihintay [na] doon na po natutulog,” she said.

Rio is one of the 24 Filipinos currently staying in a shelter some distance away from Kabul airport.

As for their personal needs, Rio said they still have enough supply for several days.

They also worry, however, for the safety of other Filipinos stranded in areas with no access to food and proper lodging.

“Sa pamilya ko, huwag kayong mag-alala ako’y nakakangiti pa pero ako’y naiiyak. Pero doon po sa gobyerno po natin sana po talaga una, matulungan nyo kaming mailikas talaga dito kaming lahat na gustong umuwi kasi talagang ang hirap,” Rio said asking for government support.

“Hindi safe. Hindi kami okay. Hindi namin ma-explain yung pakiramdam namin dito,” she added.

Rio said if she makes it back to the Philippines, she would never go back to Afghanistan.

All she asks for is a livelihood support from the Philippine government in recognition for their contribution to the country’s economy. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

PH extends ban on travelers from India, 6 other nations until July 31

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has extended its entry restrictions for travelers coming from India and six other countries until July 31, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the extension of travel restrictions on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

“Inaprubahan ng inyong IATF ang extension ng travel restrictions sa India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates at Oman hanggang katapusan ng buwan o July 31, 2021,” Roque announced during his regular press briefing.

The travel ban, imposed to prevent the further entry of highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant, was supposed to lapse on July 15.

Roque said the IATF technical working group has also been instructed to further review and submit recommendations on the appropriate testing and quarantine protocols for inbound travelers from the above-mentioned countries as well as other nations considered as “high risk” for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on the recommended travel ban on Indonesia due to a surge in cases of Delta COVID-19 variant. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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