Mr. Douglas Maclagan
Proprietor, Pavilions Himalayas
The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on the global economy. The travel and hospitality industry has been hard hit due to the virus outbreak as hotels and restaurants have been increasingly closing down and laying off their staff to ensure the marginal operation of their businesses. In this backdrop, NEF reached out to Mr. Douglas Maclagan, Pavilions Himalayas for his perspective on the impacts of the virus outbreak on the hospitality sector and prepared a brief neftake as below.
Pavilions Himalayas operations
Pavilions Himalayas has completely closed its operations as per the government’s enforcement of the nationwide lockdown. With the only international airport being shut, we have a negligible number of foreign visitors. However, we have been very sincere to our team members and have given them two-month notice in terms of keeping their salaries safe. We currently have thirteen staff (one member from each department) on board to keep our hotel alive in terms of maintenance and to cater to the local market. The rest of our staff are on unpaid leave and have been understanding and supportive of this move.
Changing the perception of travel
Travel is never going to be the same again as this is not a national or a regional crisis; this is a global crisis. People are also going to see travel in a different light. Big groups and places with huge population will be sidetracked or avoided. Similarly, air travel has drastically reduced. Hence, while it is going to be very difficult for cities such as London, Rome, Kathmandu, and Pokhara to bounce back to their previous glory, travel involving nature, hiking, and trekking are expected to experience a faster recovery as this mode of travel involves social distancing. It is going to be a slow recovery and can take at least 3-5 years before we can see any return to the normal situation like in 2019.
Challenges and opportunities for the tourism sector
In terms of tourism, countries will eventually have to open up their doors for international arrivals. For Nepal, since the recovery of European nations, which are the major source of tourism to Nepal, is going to be very slow, so in the near future, we have to concentrate more on local and regional tourism.
Nepal is a beautiful nation with healthy tourism prospects in the form of yoga, meditation, organic foods, adventure, and nature travels. Thus, the nation could focus on enhancing and promoting its natural beauty, culture, and traditions to attract more tourists from neighbouring nations like India, China, Bhutan, etc. However, attracting tourists from European nations is going to be challenging. Similarly, another major challenge lies in the future tourism job market.
Direct employment of individuals who need jobs is going to be heavily impacted as the sector is currently considering downsizing and layoffs. Unfortunately, many people who have been geared up and trained in this sector are going to lose jobs. The household economy is going to be largely impacted and people might have to consider returning to their homes.
For Nepal, first the lockdown has to end so that people can move, and the international airport can operate again. The coronavirus is not a momentary disease; it is going to stay over our economies for the long haul. The virus is more serious, stubborn, and deadly than any other disease that we have seen before. Considering this, we must come up with new and safe ways to deal with it. Opening up the nation is going to be a challenge (both economically and socially). However, Nepal is a country where people are extremely peaceful and resilient. We picked ourselves up after the earthquake. Therefore, there is real scope for reviving our economy, but this will come at some cost.
The above Expert Speak edition is written by Mr. Douglas Maclagan. He is the Proprietor of Pavilions Himalayas.
Thumbnail picture source: https://www.greenpearls.com/hotels/the-pavilions-himalayas/