“Heaven is myth, Nepal is real”, is a well-known saying for Nepal which is globally recognized for its picturesque mountains and as the holy birthplace of Gautam Buddha, the light of Asia. Nepal is especially known for extravagant mountains, unique monasteries, architecture and friendly locals you will ever come across the planet. Amidst celebrating the beauty of Nepal’s tourism, the recent global pandemic that shook the world has severely impacted tourism in terms of economy, remittance, massive followers and tourists. According to the Department of Immigration, tourist’s arrival via air to Nepal dropped 21 percent year-on-year in February to 77,064 people.
With the COVID-19 spikes giving no indication of diminishing anytime sooner in the near future, Nepal is probably going to stay closed for foreign tourists until the end of this year. The travel industry area has just endured a tremendous loss and it will take a long time to re-establish the business in Nepal. Tourism holds the largest industries and has been the major source of revenue. Having said that, according to the recent study by Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, loss of NPR 40 billion in Nepal’s tourism is approximated due to COVID-19.
Enormous cancellations of hotels and tourists’ bookings followed, bringing about widespread unemployment, loss of income and undermined livelihoods for thousands. The breakdown of international and domestic tourism followed a 2% drop in traveler appearances in January 2020 contrasted with 2019. Over 10,000 tourists who had entered Nepal before the lockdown was additionally left abandoned, although huge numbers of them were eventually localized.
Existential challenge to mass tourism in the nation
Mass tourism has come to a complete halt due to the pandemic. Some small nations, whose fundamental stream of income is the travel industry, have turned to methods to ensure organizations and laborers by looking for credits and awards from unfamiliar governments if the state’s assets are insufficient. For this situation, the travel industry business people have not set goal-oriented expectations.
Meanwhile, organizations and businesses in Thamel dismayed after COVID-19 frightens away foreign tourists. Thamel’s retailers are competing with each other to catch the eye of the couple of tourists who are still wandering in its roads. The impacts of the episode of COVID-19 before the end of last year in China and its spread over the world are presently being felt in Kathmandu’s tourist center, as traveler numbers decrease in the midst of a much-vaunted travel industry. Most hotels have announced a fall of more than 50 percent in January and February. Indeed, even very good quality lodgings, similar to Durbar Marg’s Hotel Annapurna, have revealed an inhabitance of only 40-45 percent, down from 70 percent before the COVID-19 episode in China. This has to a great extent to do with the way that Chinese tourists are not travelling, particularly since the Chinese government provided a notice asking travel and visit organizations to suspend outbound travel for the present. Chinese tourists establish the second-biggest gathering of guests to Nepal, with 169,543 appearances in 2019. The administration’s Visit Nepal 2020 mission had planned to acquire 350,000 Chinese sightseers this year, however that number is currently probably not going to be met. With traveler numbers falling, a considerable lot of Thamel’s support businesses, similar to money exchange, are announcing extraordinary falls in income.
Tourism-entrepreneurs in trouble
Mountain climbing, trekking, rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding etc has always been the major activities in Nepal gaining popularity and attracting tourists ever since. Several hubs and corners are found both in the valley and outside the valley that leverage these activities. But, as being said the pandemic has halted these businesses. Mountaineering tourism’s hopes faded fast with the rise in COVID-19 cases. The imposed lockdown and its consequences forced dozens of companies to cancel expeditions booked months ago. As per the industry insiders, around 20,000 tours were cancelled leading to trekking and mountain guides out of job. The nation’s pinnacle tourism season, which pulls in a third of the total 1.2 million tourists visiting Nepal, does not for the most part draws attention for Mount Everest, but majority adventures to trek. In addition, myriad tourists travel across the nation to many remote valleys and peaks providing a much-needed boost up to the local economies.
Entrepreneurs have stated that they are not in a situation to proceed with their business if this circumstance keeps on continuing. For this situation, such entrepreneurs have not set any expectations further as the tourism sector has already experienced a huge loss and it is going to take a quite amount of time to restore the industry in Nepal.
Everything we need to know for re-opening tourism:
Operating home-stays in preparation
Preparation has been made to figure three home remain in Halesi of Khotang – a tri-intersection of the Hindu, Buddhists and Kirant strict individuals. Halesi advancement council, shared arrangement was ongoing to figure two Kirant culture-based homestay at Lower Malku and Aiselukharka and Hindu culture-based homestay at Upper Malkhu. Separate councils are shaped in three regions and planning of preparing on the activity of homestay and development of important framework has been assisted. it’s believed that the homestay business would advance nearby items and consequently take local people to the way of independence. it’d be noticed that the Nepal government had advanced an improvement plan of Halesi through a special council since 2053 BS. The legislature drifted an appointment to make up the spot as a tri-intersection of three strict networks.
Taking into consideration on the present situation, we’d like to actualize new strategies and methodologies to attract and oversee tourists within the coming days. The private sector has to make arrangements to draw tourists with appealing destinations and services. Meanwhile, the govt. has to bring such strategies which will make sure the safety of the tourists. Also, this may be taken simply as the opportune chance to plan for the post-pandemic stage as different countries are recouping progressively from this pandemic. Introduction of combo-packages including health safety and insurance packages can ensure confidence to travel which directly emphasizes the modality of tourism. Despite the very fact that government presented the distinctive alleviation for the industry but the implementation aspect seems to be feeble. Visit Nepal 2020, gained much attention and had investors invest huge amounts in their respective businesses now have procured losses. Recently, the Nepal Association Tour Operators approached the administration to right away think about a mechanism to spare the 1.05 million positions which are in danger for being lost, some forever, within the travel industry.
Tourists have yet started questioning about Nepal’s status on permitting visitors. They need a pair of inquiries that Nepal must reply: Is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mandatory for tourists, will they be welcomed in the mountainous regions, where do they go just in case they get affected and what are the government made protocols and agencies to keep them safe? These are the queries that Nepal must address to overcome the guest’s uncertainty and win their confidence.
The rules, which are yet to be implemented, have set a pair of necessities for tourists, which are- negative polymerase chain response (PCR) test results with less than 72 hours on arrival; another PCR test in Nepal from government-assigned clinics and facilities; 14 days of isolation in lodgings; and Covid-19 travel protection. Consistent with the authorities, all of those records, apart from the PCR test in Nepal, must be submitted while getting onto a plane and also as per the preliminary discussions’ tourists would have to spend few days in quarantine in Kathmandu hotels, or other days within the hotels outside Kathmandu. Also, keeping in mind that the travel agencies must take full responsibility of the tourists, beginning from the airport. The tourists, nonetheless, must apply for visas at Nepal’s diplomatic missions in their respective missions.
On the opposite hand, the government should follow what other countries do, the private sector together with the tourism board can implement joint fund for testing center at the airport. If everything is done right, tourism will re-kindle the economy within the coming years and provide jobs to millions.
Shreyasha Singh Maharjan is a B.Tech graduate with a major in Food Science and Technology, from Tribhuvan University. Currently, she is working at Hilife Foods Nepal as an Assistant Product Developer and Content Creator/ Writer. Her areas of interest lie in Food Security, Product Development, and Research Writing where she has been leading many food projects and research papers. She was previously involved in Nepal Economic Forum as a Research Intern and covered her areas of interest in Economics, Management, and Leadership skills. She intends to specialize in areas under the food sector, industrial management, and sustainability.