The pandemic of COVID-19 is the biggest humanitarian crisis faced by Nepal after the 2015 massive earthquake. Nearly 54,000 plus people have been tested positive for the virus, with 38,000 plus recovery rate while nearly 345 people have lost their lives. The economy has stalled for months, after immediate lockdown from March 24, 2020, leading to the loss of hundred jobs in the tourism industry.
While the lock-down was partially successful in slowing down the infection rates, it directly had the socio-economic impact. Alongside, the unexpected closure had left the tourists strayed and wandering, as all the flights were suspended till April 30, 2020. The lockdown created a sense of urgency in between the hoteliers, which further worsened the situation for the tourists stuck in the Himalayan nation. Securing three meals a day turned out to be difficult for the tourists, as most of the eateries and shops were closed while a maximum of them was running out of finance.
But battling the situation, the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) took a step to ease the life of the international tourists during their stay in Nepal. To help the tourists, a few of the hoteliers and local Nepalese communities joined hands to provide free meals to standard tourists facing financial hardship.
Serving the thought of, “Atithi Devo Bhava” (the guest is god), free food, medicines, and accommodation was provided in Kathmandu (Thamel), Pokhara, Chitwan, and other regions of Nepal, which pacified the situation and formed stronger bond between the visitors and Nepalese people.
VISIT NEPAL 2020 & COVID-19 IMPACT
Back in 2016, the Government of Nepal had launched “Ghumphir Year” to promote domestic tourism. Likewise, the government planned to celebrate 2020, as the Tourism year “Visit Nepal 2020”, with the aim to welcome nearly two million tourists. The project was in-lined with the 15th year five-year plan with the ambition to attract 3.5 million tourists by 2025 and generate $2 billion in revenue.
The tourism industry had invested heavily in the infrastructure urging a major boost on foreign tourist arrival. Before COVID-19, the industry had shown a remarkable demonstration of 34.6 percent growth.
As of now, the pandemic has created a certainty, has halted travel and tourism. Till the end of September 2020, the Government of Nepal has stopped issuing on arrival visa and online visa until further notice.
POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF COVID-19 IN TOURISM SECTOR
How quickly will the tourism sector of Nepal recover from the COVID-19 crisis? Well, if you see the trend of the pandemic, Nepal ranks in the 55th position, with 37 thousand cases to date with the highest recovery, and lowest death rate compared to India, China, the USA, Italy, or Spain.
If you check the data of 7 provinces of Nepal, the cases appear to be higher in Province 3 (Kathmandu) with 27.45% while the lowest one is in Province 6 with 5.37%.
|Province||Percentage of Cases||Percentage of Death|
Source: UNDP Nepal
The question of how quickly the tourism will revive in Nepal depends wholly upon the domestic policies, global health, and promotional activities and the economic situation of China, Europe, USA, and India- Nepal’s topmost source of source. Even though the contagion rate is not much high in Nepal, the international travel restrictions, fall in discretionary income, and spending capacity is likely to decline after the abolishment of restrictions.
However, once the lockdown and restrictions are over, domestic tourism is likely to gear up for the greater momentum. The post-lockdown traveling is likely to see gushed up domestic travels in the destinations such as Chitwan, Pokhara, Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, Illam for the sight-seeing purpose. While the trek lovers are sure to pack their bags and head towards the nearest trekking destinations like Mardi trek, Ghale Gaun, Manang-Mustang hike to devour the long-noted thirst of the Himalayas.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON THE TREKKING REGIONS OF NEPAL
Every year the trekking trails of Nepal got filled with tourists from all over the world. But this year, the routes got deserted. The only reason for the abandonment is the obvious fear of COVID-19.
The magical land of Nepal is packed with beautiful hills, far-stretched Himalayas, isolated villages, green lustrous forests and more. Nepal offers a rewarding, scenic walk along the mountain trails. These regions are least affected by COVID-19 as zero or very few cases are identified.
The cases are minor in numbers with least death rate. Hence, the risk of COVID-19 is minimum in the trekking regions of Nepal.
PRECAUTIONS TAKEN BY TOURISM & HOSPITALITY SECTOR IN NEPAL
Even after the COVID-19 gets over (which we believe will possibly take years to get completely eradicated), separate rules and regulation is set aside by the tourism and hospitality industries of Nepal. The country is claiming partially to stick on its traditional rituals of ‘Namaste’, where two hands are joined to welcome international travelers. Additional changes likely to encounter by the travelers on their visit to Nepal are:
As Nepal is always known for its great hospitality, we look forward to serving the tourists in a more safe and secure manner. Strong discipline is what is needed to combat the epidemic and to regain the normal traveling life.
SAFETY MEASURES IMPLEMENTED IN TIA
Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) is the major destination for safe landing in Nepal. It is a busiest hub, facing frequent inflow and outflow of visitors on a regular basis. So, it is important for the government to take every measure to pull in regular flow of tourists. And Government of Nepal along with Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has taken the following measures:
We are prepared to welcome the visitors with safety, care, and hospitality in the best form.
COVID-19 TRAVEL GUIDANCE TO TRAVEL NEPAL
The travel advice to enter is under constant review. Please check the official website for the visa notice.
O Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when submitting application for a visa.
O An emergency travel document for entry, transit and exit from Nepal with a valid visa.
Sealinks Travel & Tour has been serving the international traveler’s past decades. We have created a milestone and we shall create a golden one in the upcoming years by serving the visitors with excellent services. We are keen to make your post-COVID-19 travel experience distinct, warm, and valuable. Let us together fight the crisis and stand together after the crisis!