Posted in Press Releases

Rights Groups Announce Tourism Boycott of Nepal

Travelers Asked to Delay Trips Until Illegal Repatriation of Tibetan Refugees to China is Stopped


Michael McColl
Director of Communications
Ethical Traveler
+1 (510) 848 4500

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For Immediate Release

(Oakland, CA) A worldwide coalition of travelers today announced the first-ever tourism boycott of Nepal. This boycott comes in response to the illegal forced return of Tibetan refugees into the hands of Chinese authorities.

California-based Ethical Traveler ( called the boycott. The group is an alliance of travelers formed to use the economic power of tourism to promote social and environmental change. The boycott is to remain in place until the government of Nepal promises to abide by international law in its treatment of international refugees.

Major Tibetan rights groups rushing to support the boycott include: The Tibet Justice Center, Students for a Free Tibet, US Tibet Committee, and The Milarepa Fund. Organizers expect to win broad support for the boycott from travelers and travel outfitters.

Ethical Traveler Director Jeff Greenwald explained, “Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. As such, travelers have significant, but largely untapped, economic power. By supporting this boycott of Nepal, travelers can take direct action to stop the repatriation of Tibetan refugees.”

The group of 21 Tibetans was detained by Nepalese authorities on April 15, as they made their way to the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center in Kathmandu. On May 31, three refugees, all young children, were handed over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The other 18 were forcibly deported into China by Nepalese authorities. Previously, Nepal had generally been a safe haven for Tibetans fleeing Chinese oppression.

Nepal and China have defended their actions, claiming they followed normal procedure in dealing with the refugees’ “illegal actions.” But the UNHRC’s Nepal Commissioner expressed grave concern about the fate of the 18 asylum seekers, accusing Nepal’s government of “blatant violation of Nepal’s obligations under international law.”

The United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention states “Certain provisions of the Convention are considered so fundamental that no reservations may be made to them. These include the definition of the term “refugee,” and the so-called principle of non-refoulement, i.e. that no Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee, against his or her will, in any manner whatsoever, to a territory where he or she fears persecution.”

Updated information about the status of the Nepal tourism boycott is available at To arrange an interview with Ethical Traveler’s Executive Director Jeff Greenwald, please contact Michael McColl at +1 510 848 4500.

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About the Ethical Traveler:
Ethical Traveler is the first grass-roots alliance uniting adventurers, tourists, travel agencies and outfitters—everyone who loves to travel, and sees travel as a positive force in the world. We believe that travel is a viable (and long underestimated) form of diplomacy, and that individual travelers can be goodwill ambassadors: creating bonds of international trust and cultural understanding. We also believe that travelers have the ability to join our voices, and to use our vast economic power to support human rights and protect the environment.

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