The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) safety protocols for trekking lodge owners.
Accommodation in the hills and mountains of Nepal is diverse and comprises of facilities ranging from Camping homestays, lodges, guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, boutique accommodation, small hotels, teahouses and homestay. Most accommodation providers will have to follow local governmental or official hospitality regulations but many facilities in the hills and mountains are not formal enterprises and trekking/tour operators and individual travelers need to check protocols themselves to which following protocol provide guidance (informed by international and Nepal companies, organizations and individuals).
A. Host Community Protocols
Interactions in the mountain between residents and visitors need to follow or implement strict protocol. Both local tourism facilities and tour/trekking companies need to confirm in advance that the host community is welcoming of tourism returning to their village. When visitors reach a village, both the communities and the visitors need to be kept safe.
B. Physical Distancing
- Keep at least two meters’ distance between visitors and residents and wear appropriate mask at all times.
- Visitors should be discouraged from wandering around the community and restrict themselves totheir booked accommodation and designated visitor sites (e.g. safe drinking water station, restaurants, tourist shops). The community should also be aware to not physical touch visitors and they should be encouraged to wear masks when visitors are around.
- Tour and Trekking Guides and Support Staff have a more important responsibility under this protocol and should act as a bridge (Social mobilizer) between the visitors and community so that excellent coordination is maintained to protect communities. Tour and Trekking Guides should prepare for interaction with communities as often villagers socialize and gather on trailheads or stops and they might not know, or follow, health and safety standard.
C. Tour Group Management:
Ensure all staff is trained in the Emergency Protocol.
Small groups or household groups should be favored to promote distancing. Keep trip participant
numbers as low as reasonably possible (physical distancing does not need to apply to household
Consider offering the exclusive use of small lodges to minimize interactions with other travelers.
Where customers will be sharing with other guests who are different household units, ensure there is space in communal areas for distancing measures to be implemented.
Customers in the same group but who are not from the same family, should not share rooms together.
Consider distancing measures in dining areas for customers who are in the same group but in different households, such as larger or separate tables and different (fixed) mealtimes.
Perform daily screening and monitoring measures, such as asking about symptoms or checking temperatures for visitors and staff.
Provide ample access to hand washing facilities and sanitizer. Ask that visitors sanitize hands when entering any building, lodging or facility, before starting an activity and as often as needed throughout the experience or stay.
Ensure strict cleaning of hands before and after handling guest luggage and ensure luggage is touched by single staff/team member only.
D. Transport (see general transport protocol – section V and consider):
Open vehicle windows provide space in between passengers and have passengers wear face coverings. Consider the use of face shields or the use of private vehicles for transportation as additional measures.
E. Guest Accommodation (see general hotel protocol – section II and consider):
Ensure all staff is trained in the Emergency Protocol.
Attention to increased levels of sanitization and disinfection in guest rooms.
Staff should identify cleaning hot spots, or high touch points, and either remove unnecessary items from guest rooms and common areas or have enhanced cleaning or sanitation procedures implemented.
Wash all table-tops, chairs, floors, door handles, toilet flushes, taps and any other surfaces regularly touched by staff and guests with an approved disinfectant at least 4 times a day. Ask the guests to help disinfect the rooms they occupy – if they can.
Consider not using tablecloths and chair covers to ensure ease of disinfection and cleaning.
After washing, put bedding outside in direct sunlight – the sun is a disinfectant
Consider – where possible – to arranged bedrooms with a distance of 1.5 meters between beds.
Reduce the number of guests in dormitory rooms to maintain good space between beds
Ensure staff are equipped with appropriate PPE when cleaning, dealing with laundry or guest luggage.
Plan for 1.5 meters distancing measures to be implemented in all guest areas like dining room, lounge, restaurant, etc. Examples may include spacing out chairs and tables and cleaning with disinfectant before every new guest who uses the furniture.
If the lodge has a leisure facility such as a small pool, consult with local official policy as to the procedure for use. Consider the cleaning and disinfection procedures for the facility, and numbers of guests that can use the facility.
Keep rooms empty for 24 hours if possible and disinfect surfaces before new guests occupy the room.
Have a procedure in place for when a guest or staff shows symptoms of COVID-19; where possible provide an isolation bedroom outside the guest premises.
F. Meal provision
Visitors should only consume meals at their place of accommodation (if possible)
Serving individually served hot cooked food only
Distancing: consider alternative arrangements to provide spacing such as ample guest seating and spaced tables, offering private or outdoors eating locations, or scheduled mealtimes.
Prevent surface contact and clean high-use areas and touch points often with a rigorous enhanced
Reduce and restrict high use areas and touch points
Display menu clearly in the dining facility (no individual menus handed-out)
Reduce utensils and condiments.
Food and beverages should be served by staff members who are trained and observant of precautions.
Consider how meals are transported, covered, and consumed. Attempt to individually pack food items and cover meals with a reusable lid. For food samples, consider how the customer will handle and consume safely.
Each person should have their individual gear – binoculars, walking poles, etc. and guests should care for and carry their own equipment.
Individual gear that is worn next to skin (e.g. helmet, neoprene, sun guards) should be thoroughly washed after each use as a prevention against COVID-19 transmission via surface contact.
When items of handicrafts are sold in local shops, ensure good handwash after the transaction.
H. Waste Disposal
Waste disposal is already a challenge in Nepal’s hills and mountain destinations. Villages and settlements should make provision for the safe disposal of cleaning materials and personal protection items by providing a safe and environmentally sounds burning facility. Visitors, and tour/trekking companies should make provision for the safe removal of their own protection and cleaning materials from the community areas.
I. Emergency Protocol
Each village should have a clear emergency protocol in place in case there is an infection suspected or detected – amongst community members or visitors. If any of the guests or staff is suspect, isolate them in one of the rooms. Serve them in the room and maintain minimum two meters distance from them.
Inform the COVID response committee in the village
Isolate the person from the community in a designated house, room or tented space.
Inform the established Covid19 Helpline and follow instructions.
Keep numbers of clinics, health post, Covid Helplines handy
Methodology to ensure that these protocols are followed:
Train the Community COVID19 Response Committee in breaking the chain and Effective Implementation of these tourism protocols
Train the Guides in COVID19 protocols and how to follow emergency protocols
Train guides and porters to become social mobilisers who can re-layer in the protocols every time they go to the village. This also builds confidence in the role tourism can play to keep the communities safe.
Detailed briefing of group travelers to ensure they understand the risk of infection when they travel to remote communities.