Mr. Bijay Amatya
CEO and Founder, Kora Tours
The ongoing pandemic has caused severe crisis in the economy around the globe and the tourism sector has not been spared. As an important part of the Nepalese economy with a contribution of about 8% to the nation’s GDP in the year 2018, the current pandemic has created a disastrous situation for the tourism sector. As the pandemic continues and the lockdown prolongs in Nepal, the sector continues to suffer acutely with no sight of relief anytime soon. To understand the ongoing crisis in the tourism sector owing to the current pandemic, NEF sought insights from Mr. Bijaya Amtya, CEO of Kora Tours and prepared a brief insight as below.
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown on your business:
Due to the lockdown, our business at present is zero. We were supposed to have a movement of 250 pax in June; however, all of them have been cancelled. While we have closed our office, we are currently working from home and have managed to keep in contact with all our clients globally.
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown on the tourism sector
Currently, there are no international and domestic flights, due to which the tourism industry looks almost dead. The losses might be over NPR 2-3 billion in terms of monetary value. However, its biggest impact is to the job market as it has wiped out around 1.5 million jobs. Ironically, in Nepal’s tourism industry, the informal sector is bigger than the formal sector. However, many tour/trek companies, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc. will be forced to close down if the government does not come up with proper relief packages for them. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has declared that tourism in South Asia will take a dip by around 32% in 2020. With this, Nepal’s tourist inflow is set to be limited to 5-6 lakhs tourists at the maximum; that too if things go well.
The future of the tourism sector:
There are some businesses that might be able to pick-up from as early as mid-September. However, that will just be a trickling effect. Even though October and November might be bit better, it might take around 1-2 years for the tourism industry to really pick up its pace. I believe that the year 2020 is gone and that we need to prepare for the year 2021. Nevertheless, there is a big opportunity to move towards sustainable tourism, which can help us give a new shape to our tourism industry. This will also help bring a balance between the numbers and the revenues, as the biggest challenge in the coming days will be to win back the market share being eyed by 197 countries in the global arena.
Key areas to be addressed after the lockdown:
After the lockdown, we need to make sure that the air pollution is brought down. Along with this, we also need to make sure that our airport facilities are up to the mark and that cleanliness is given a top priority in all touristic points. Initially, the government must encourage domestic tourism. Then, we can focus on China and India to get international tourists. We can do this by making attractive packages for them. To my knowledge, Chinese tourists will be the first one to come to Nepal, which will be followed by Indian tourists. For this, international airlines also need to be encouraged to start their schedule flights whereas the national carrier needs to be supported by all means.
The above Expert Speak edition is based on the conversation with Mr. Bijay Amatya. He is the CEO and Founder of Kora Tours.
Thumbnail picture source: https://www.333travel.nl/nepal/tour/pokhara-aan-het-phewa-meer