Nepal being a landlocked Country and surrounded by the towering peaks rely on the tourism industry for economic development. Many tourists arriving Nepal for business or pleasure take part in the tourism activities such as Mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing, sightseeing, rafting, paragliding while they are here. Most of it has been successfully carried out by Hotels, lodges, guesthouses, resorts and travel agencies who run 24/7 service for customer support and bringing their visit in Nepal to fruition. However, since the fall of 2019, the world has been plagued by a dreadful transmission of a virus that came from China called the Covid 19 or the coronavirus. This pandemic changed the living patterns of people and caused an upheaval as the people were forced to stay home at a lengthy lockdown period.
The regular business industries including tourism business saw a big blockage as the movement of foreign people was banned and more tourists who were here were preparing to pack up and wait for a flight that could take them back home safely. People began to maintain a social distance and many industries and occupations were closed. Most of the people lost their jobs and many foreign migrants in search of jobs were in turmoil due to cuts in their wages and income. More people used porous borders but it rapidly brought chaos and now no one is allowed to foreign land including India without PCR test result.
Many travel agencies at tourist hotspots like Thamel were out of commission. Those who leased the room for office had no choice but to shut down because of the piling out of liabilities like monthly rental income which couldn’t be paid to the landlords. Many VISAs got cancelled and at the time when tourist arrival was peak was now a dead end affair. Many employees at Airport, hotels, hotels, guesthouses and lodges, restaurants were laid off as the Companies could not pay them while they ran out of business.
On the other hand, those tourists who were at call for due trips in Nepal faced termination and many travel agencies incurred heavy losses from refunding the money due to unavoidable circumstances. The markets crowded by tourists at world heritage sites like Patan, Hanumandhoka, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Durbar Squares were deserted and the gaping eyes of businessmen and traders were more imminent as they were waiting for tourists to serve upon.
The affluent class used chartered flights but this was not for all common people and most of them were stuck to take the leap of faith. Just before 2019 our tourism Minister had also spoken about expanding and promoting tourism by meeting major tourism industries goals but this was foiled off with the emergence of the covid 19 wave and many people were affected and till now 9198 deaths have happened within our Country. The insufficient roll out of vaccinations and new variants of Coronavirus already seen now has made it a hopeless situation until this pandemic is settled out completely.
This period calls upon prudence as we are facing a major recession. However, all is not lost and we can bounce back with more force if we take strategic steps to set our new goals and think of more solid ways of reviving the tourism industry while we wait to see the first light of dawn in this time of darkness in our lives and losses that we have to repair later.
We must study the signs that nature is sending to us and always adhere to changes and possibilities to have a strong action plan and we can use this stage as a slingshot to hit targets at the far end.