Tourism is one of the most important and fast growing industries of Nepal. Covid-19 has affected hospitality industry all around the world and Nepal is not an exception. On 2019, Nepal tourism board, hotel owners, tour operators and people associated with tourism and hospitality industry were gearing up for “Visit Nepal 2020”. Nepal’s target was to welcome approximately 2 million people on 2020. There were a lot of planning done for the visit Nepal year. All the efforts and investments of hotel owners and tour operators were in vain, as the pandemic was around the corner.
Impacts of Covid-19 on tourism in Nepal
Nepal went under strict lockdown from March 2020 to June 2020. Talking about the impacts, Nepal Tourism board and its taskforce estimated the loss of 83 million US dollars each month during the lockdown. This had affected tour operators, hotel owners, and aviation. Even though the lockdown was relaxed on July, 2020 allowing most economic activities in the country, tourism sector was still under restrictions.
If we look into the statistics of Province number 2 alone, around 25000 people had lost their jobs. There were around 5000 hotels in this province .Due to few to no tourists arriving in the country, it was difficult for the hotel owners and entrepreneurs to pay wages of their employees.
During the initial days of lockdown, the World Bank had anticipated that the pandemic would affect the low income worker from the hospitality industries who happened to have limited access to the health care facilities.
Many hotels have decided to close indefinitely which has caused many employee of the hotels to lose their jobs. According to the reports, banks had loan exposure of around Nepali rupees 138.68 billion in hotel and restaurant in 2020. Hotel association of Nepal stated that 95% of its 3000 member hotels earned nothing in March and May 2020.
To give a few examples, the Annapurna Hotel, located in the heart of Kathmandu, announced its closure. This meant that 360 people risked losing their livelihoods. The Annapurna hotel is part of the list of 10 five-star hotels in Kathmandu and, along with it, another hotel, the Malla hotel, has also announced its closure.
Although the situation has improved with the ongoing mass vaccination, the strict quarantine rules have not yet helped the tourism industry. Anyone arriving in Nepal, whether vaccinated or not, has to stay in quarantine for a certain number of days, as stipulated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. Since tourists have to opt for quarantine in hotels, increasing the cost of their trip, people are still unwilling to visit Nepal's territories.
Edited by Rojina Luintel