Since the nation-wide lockdown imposed on March 24 as an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19, Nepal has faced some critical losses throughout different fields. The tourism industry is one of them.
The Himalayan trials which once used to be lined up with trekkers and travelers are now quite. As the number of visitors in Nepal has significantly decreased, so are the job opportunities for the locals. This has affected thousands of lives at the Himalayas. Porters, mountain guides, and trainers are struggling to run their daily life due to this.
2020 has been unfortunate. Nepal has not gotten an adequate chance to revive tourism to its full potential since the massive earthquake in 2015 where 9,000 people were killed leaving approximately 22,000 injured. The pandemic was the last thing the country needed.
However, people did not take long to respond. Professionals from every sector have been actively involved in helping one another. Some are donating to people-in-need while some are protesting against the incapability of the government to contain the virus. Nevertheless, the primary intent is the same, to be able to live normally again.
In January, the government announced the Visit Nepal 2020 as a marketing campaign to attract no less than 2 million visitors. The campaign has been halted and there have been no promotions since the lockdown.
The lockdown has made things much harder, and some in a good way, said Mr. Deepak Raj Joshi, Past CEO of NTB (Nepal Tourism Board). “Now that there’s more competition, travel service providers should look for new content and itineraries. There has been a trend of copying and pasting similar itineraries by a vast number of agencies. That will not work anymore. They need to come up with new and enticing travel packages” he said.
According to WHO, there have been 7,848 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nepal with 22 deaths. The number of cases is increasing at a high rate. Nepal government seems to be looking for every possible way of regulating mandatory services with active social distancing. Meanwhile, hundreds of unsatisfied citizens from all sectors have started protesting demanding to regulate businesses.
Experts claim that the tourism industry requires at least 9 to 12 months to fully recover. The industry now needs to search for alternatives. Nepal’s capacity to deal with the crisis is really low. So, it is really important not to be much dependent. Many small businesses have already diverted their focus to local level tourism. This might very well trigger innovations in tourism in Nepal. We don’t know that yet. But despite all the hardships, there is still hope among us.