Challenging time for Nepal’s Tourism. : The impact of the pandemic of Covid-19 on the tourism industry in Nepal is going to be huge,. It has considerably damaged every wing of our tourism. We have not been able to go to work and ensure the safety of our clients. Beside tourists coming to Nepal that comprises of the diverse international community has not been able to travel. Being locked down at home, people in the west are desperate to travel. Till normalcy is restored, it will take time to redevelop our market. Experts say the demand for nature-based or adventure destinations will be relatively more once the crisis is over. This may be a ray of hope for Nepal.
The tourism industry in Nepal is, primarily, the combination of travel, hospitality and airlines sectors. Hospitality and airline sectors have huge investments. Travel sector includes travel agencies, trekking agents, rafting operators and tour operators. Travel and hospitality sectors have investments from very small family size resources to huge investments with international affiliations. The aviation sector in Nepal has two sets of airline operators; domestic airlines, and helicopter operators. Currently, eleven helicopter operators have thirty-two helicopters. Domestic airlines are operating in trunk routes and in STOL airports. Once the situation is normal, trunk routes may start slowly but for STOL and remote areas which is dependent on foreign tourists will find hard to operate.
Estimated between seven to eight lakh (700,000- 800,000) people are currently working in the tourism industry in Nepal. Tourism is the largest job contributor in the world. It is believed that a tourist generates ten employments. The constraint in business is sure to replicate job losses. Small and micro-investment, largely self-run in the sector are going to suffer a lot. Bigger investments in hotel and airlines are being funded by commercial banks.
Therefore, in order to ensure smooth functioning at Challenging time for Nepal’s tourism, it is very important for the government to introduce a retention plan where banks allow hold EMIs for at least two years. For smaller enterprises, the government has to come with a relief package until tourism bounces back.
The world is going through a crisis. The ray of hope is that the crisis will not hit Nepal hardest in comparison to other countries. Nepal may come up again with lesser damage than others. Nepal has the potential to come up as a green destination. The position of Nepal as a natural destination has an advantage over urban destinations in other countries. Therefore, we have to be vibrant in
the market and promote extensively. We don’t have enough resources for international marketing but we need to organize events and invite international celebrities which will appear in media that Nepal is a safe and interesting destination. For sustainability in post-COVID-19 phase, we will need to develop new products and sell it maintaining social distance and good hygiene. It is
difficult to say how many airlines will be able to continue until everything is normal. The news of Thai Airways going bankrupt should be taken seriously. There will be more news coming on the impact on tourism. We need to prepare a concrete plan to support Nepal Airlines and other airlines to pull tourists to Nepal.
Nepal has not yet reached a high point of crisis. In China, it started in December reached its peak in February and by the end of March, it was said to be controlled there. In Europe, it started in March and it seems they are beginning to control it. When Europe was at its peak, the cases in South Asia was negligible. When Europe is slowing, we have more number of cases. Cases in India alone has crossed one lakh (100,000). Cases in Nepal is rapidly growing. If the spread can’t be controlled, it will be a huge crisis in our region. It is only after the control of the spread, we can be hopeful about the future of tourism in Nepal. European countries have started to plan a normal life.
Response not to let it spread in the communities. Retain the tourism industry in Nepal by holding EMI, rescheduling loans and provide extra loan to survive for bigger investments and introducing relief packages to small operators. For recovery, Nepal needs to prepare a comprehensive plan to normalize air connectivity and to bring back tourists. If all three ‘R’s are introduced in the upcoming budget, we are in the right direction.
The private sector is always ready to partner with the government in solving the challenge together and to re-promote Nepal. The private sector can’t go alone. Development and growth in Nepal’s tourism industry are led by the private sector. The Government has to join hands with the private sector if it wishes growth in tourism. If the government and private sector work harmoniously together, Nepal is sure to prosper and overcome Challenging time for Nepal’s tourism. The private sector is ready to work together with the government in product development, during the crisis and further research.
There may be differences in the approach between the government and the private sector in depicting the situation. We need to understand each other better and explore how best the state and private sector work and promote Nepalese tourism.
Mr Suman Pandey
Tourism Entrepreneur and a long time Industry Leader
Other good reads :