Nepal Tourism after lockdown: Will COVID-19 pandemic change the entire scenario of tourism in Nepal forever?

Damodar Dhakal
People of Nepal - Nepal Tours @ Mission Nepal Holidays

The corona virus pandemic has taken the entire world by storm. Widespread fears of a possible outbreak have dealt a tough blow to a third world country like Nepal. Travel and tourism is undoubtedly one of the strongest pillars on which the foundation of Nepalese economy is laid. The tourism sectors now faces with an uphill task of mass disruption, and are fighting it out for survival giving rise to unhealthy speculations and frightening scenarios. 

To generate revenue the government had launched an ambitious plan to develop the sector further. Therefore a big promotional campaign “Visit Nepal 2020” was initiated in the beginning of this year. However in early March, the campaign was cancelled. The sector supports more than a million jobs directly and indirectly and the numbers were expected to grow in 2020. Sadly though, many hotels, resorts, airlines, travel and trekking companies are forced to shut down. This has invariably affected various tourist destinations that face with the fear of economic loss, cutting down of jobs, and drastic decrease in tourist numbers or no tourists at all.

Nepal’s tourism in Stark Darkness why? 

Nepal’s tourism sector is currently one of the severely-hit sectors by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. This (COVID-19), has curbed and totally changed the scenario on both travel supply and demand, particularly in Nepal. the world’s leading outbound market, and other key Asian and European destinations such as Italy.

To counter the virus and slow down its progress many of the remote Himalayan destinations have implemented a lockdown and travel restrictions. This means tourism destinations which are tourism reliant are no longer having these tourists enter that particular region. Due to this restriction the tourism dependent destinations will lose out on monetary gains pushing it further to an economic recession.

The imposed lockdown on various travel destinations would restrict tourists to visit attractions and places such as restaurants and bars. This leads to many jobs being cut down and leaving people unemployed in various tourist hot spots. 

Nepal still continues to reel under lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 virus. As a result Nepali economy is facing serious threats due to the extended lockdown. This threat exists because Nepal heavily relies on its tourists for its prosperity and well-being. To make the matters worse currently COVID-19 pandemic has put Nepal on its back foot. There is no respite for the travel and tourism sector as the government has already decided to restrict the entry of citizens from highly infected countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Iran. The top ten countries from where Nepal gets major chunk of tourists every year are on high alert.

Now against all odds Nepal needs to rethink regroup and re-frame its health preparedness and come up with a feasible recovery plan. Since the disease lifespan is unknown measures should be taken to promote tourism infrastructure and internal tourism. Most importantly this step would put new life into the stagnant tourism sector and may help to recover and reboots’ its lost economy to some extent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left Nepal tourism with no choice but to face the harsh reality. Foreign tourists will no longer be gathering in huge numbers to invest in leisure and grabbing souvenirs that were once an integral part of lucrative tourism. It is a harsh truth though that it will take time for the tourism sector to recover. It’s going to be a tough battle ahead to sustain tourism sector people’s livelihood. Looking at the broader perspective for these dedicated tourism workers in the Nepali tourism industry, there are no signs of an immediate solution to get tourism sector back on track. 

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