COVID-19 and Tourism Industry of Nepal

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COVID-19 was first erupted from Wuhan, Hubei of China right from December 31 2019. According to www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, there are 8,786,592 confirmed cases, 463,156 deaths and 4,646,976 recovered cases of COVID-19 respectively. This pandemic affected 213 countries and territories of the entire world. Due to the threat of novel coronavirus (nCoV), almost every sector from construction to education, tourism to transportation, and hospital to hospitality has been affected. There are still so many countries which are badly affected having high spread and mortality rate of this deadly virus.

Talking about Nepal, the cases of this pandemic are very low comparing with the other countries far and near. The very first case of this virus was noticed on January 23 in a 31-year-old student who had returned from Wuhan, China. The second case was noticed on March 23 that from the following day (March 24), the nationwide lockdown was declared. Although the entire world was badly going through this communicable virus, Nepal was believed to be still safe. The first local transmission was identified in Kailali district on 4 April and the first death on May 14 respectively. The latest graph shows that there are 8,274 confirmed cases, 22 deaths and 1,402 cases of recovery from COVID-19.

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The Most Notable Impacts of COVID-19 on Tourism Industry of Nepal

As soon as the second case of COVID-19 was confirmed on 23 March, the Government of Nepal declared the nationwide lockdown immediately from 24 March. In the beginning of the identification of the new pneumonia, the world hadn’t expected much that the situation would have been so aggravating. However, it began to extend its coverage right from 13 January 2020 when it was first seen in Thailand. Then, its adverse effects were seen in almost every sector from production to distribution of goods and services all over the world.

In such situation, how can Nepal remain untouched and isolated? Nepal Government had planned to conduct Visit Nepal 2018 in 2015. However, the plan couldn’t be successful due to the slow reconstruction process post Gorkha Earthquake 2015. Therefore, the GoN in collaboration with the tourism agencies had declared to celebrate 2020 as Visit Nepal Year. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), Nepal had completed the promotional campaigns in most of the largest cities of the world. The Visit Nepal 2020 was grandly inaugurated at Dasharath Stadium of the Capital City on 1 January 2020 amidst a special program by the President Mrs. Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

Visit Nepal 2020 was a grand festival in the history of tourism in Nepal after Visit Nepal 1998 and Tourism Year 2011. The MoCTCA had expected to receive more than 2 million international tourists in this year. Apart from maintaining the existing tourist destinations, the organizer committee had introduced some 100 new destinations of adventure, rural and community-based tourism. The main objective of this celebration was to improve the living standard of the rural people through tourism industry. Nevertheless, in March 2020, the Government of Nepal declared the halt of the promotional campaigns of VY 2020 and later on postponement to 2022. The official decision is yet to be declared about the master plan for the promotional campaigns and celebration of the newly scheduled VN 2022.

Similarly, the outbreak of COVID-19 compelled for the cancellation of the scheduled packages for tour and trekking in Nepal. Thousands of the foreign travelers cancelled their Nepal visit due to the growing impacts of this pandemic. All the other industries connected with tourism are badly affected due to the cancellation of VY 2020 and the respective trips. The hotels are almost empty due to the lack of the tourists while the employees of these hotels have been jobless at the same time. The people involved in tourism industry are also jobless and have gone to their hometowns or villages. Instead of guiding the tourists, they are engaged in agricultural fields for earning their daily livelihood. As a result, all the tourism agencies located in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other major cities are closed.

Why Nepal has Low Cases of COVID-19?

If you have heard about the proximity of Nepal and China, you probably ask to yourself, “Why Nepal has low cases of COVID-19?” Yes, you are 100% right to ask this question to yourself! The aeronautical distance between Nepal and Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19 is approximately 2,823km while road distance is nearly 4,265km. Many of the electronic appliances and garment items are imported in Nepal from Wuhan of Hubei, China.

However, the cases of infected and the deaths in Nepal are comparatively far below. It doesn’t mean, there is not any but looking at the graph from all around the world, the cases are very low. As a whole, we mean to say that there is still hope that Nepal can rise up from all types of impacts caused by this pandemic quite sooner. And, tourism and hospitality industry is not any exception!

To satisfy your question, let’s consider some facts, which of them are not scientific. Yes, as the right kind of medicines are not developed yet and the entire world is not sure of its exact nature, these points also make some sense in our opinion. The major causes behind the low cases of COVID-19 are:

  • Low population density
  • Manual working tendency (physical labour)
  • Less industrial pollution
  • Tradition of greetings (by joining hands “Namaste”!)
  • Low travelling tendency
  • Maybe, spicy food and a different pattern of immunity
  • Having food cooked at comparatively higher temperature
  • Right steps taken by the Government of Nepal by implementing the nationwide lockdown
  • Culture of maintaining physical distance in Nepal
  • Homeopathic treatment system or less uses of allopathic treatment pattern
  • Weather and climate or temperature, etc.

Lockdown Modification in Nepal

You know, the entire world is trying its best to protect their people from the infection of COVID-19. Likewise, the Government of Nepal has also implemented some preventive measures to control the spread of pandemic of novel coronavirus (nCoV). Apart from the national scale lockdown, Nepal has implemented rather strict regulations in travel within and outside the country. After 83 days of nationwide lockdown, the GoN has modified the lockdown policies in order to make the life of people more comfortable.

The offices that provide us day-to-day services are opened by following the universal principles of social distancing and other preventive measures. Although the private vehicles are allowed to move on the road, the public transportation is not yet allowed. The domestic flights are also suspended for some more weeks. The school/colleges, movie theaters, malls, party palaces, restaurants and cafes are also closed until further notices. The international flights are suspended until July 5 2020 along with the continuity of border seals until the situation comes into control. The government is still doing its homework to decide about the resume of the internal transportation services.

The Future of Tourism Industry of Nepal

Begun from March 24, the nationwide lockdown existed until the last minute of June 15. All the public services except the most mandatory ones, were shut down to keep the possible spread of COVID-19. The industries, educational institutions, malls, cinemas, feasts and festivals, etc. were completely banned. Only the services like food, medicals, water and ambulance were operating to help people get the most required things.

In the context of adverse effects on almost all the sectors of the nation, tourism and hospitality sector cannot remain an exception. Thousands of trips booked for 2020 have been cancelled or postponed at the least. Maybe the tourism agencies as well as the tourists have been in great loss due to the cancellation procedure. Moreover, both the local tour operators and the international travelers are more or less psychologically distracted due to this unpredictable pandemic. However, as the entire world is undergoing its adverse effects of COVID-19, what we have to do is “wait and see!”

Yes, the tourism industry is badly affected due to this global epidemic. However, there is a great prospects of this tourism and hospitality not only in Nepal but also all over the world. Talking about the Nepalese tourism and hospitality sector, the nationwide lockdown and ban on visiting has greatly benefitted it. First of all, the environmental cleanliness has been restored due to the suspension of vehicles and industries. The CFCs and other pollutants are not emitted by these industries and vehicles into the atmosphere.

The evidence of environmental rehabilitation is seen everywhere from the green cities to sight of the snowy peaks from far distance. The flowering plants of the cities and the conservation areas are really worthy of experiencing. The wonderful vistas of the snowcapped peaks of the Great Himalayas are seen from the major cities after long gap. The forests have been green and beautiful due to the lack of human intervention. In addition, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) has been active in maintenance of the roadways in the city and rural areas as well. The green plants and blacktopped roads have really beautified the city areas.

The tourism agencies and local communities are also carrying out the renovations of trekking trails in almost every part of the nation. For example, the trail of Dhaulagiri Ciruit trek is being renovated so that the difficulty level decreases. Likewise, a view tower at Sarangkot, Pokhara is being built to utilize this lockdown. You know Sarangkot is the launching site of so many adventure sports in Pokhara. Zip Flying, paragliding, hot air ballooning in Pokhara are launched from this hill station. More than this, the completion of View Tower helps you witness the wonderful sunrise and sunset view of Annapurna (8,091m) and Dhaulagiri (8,167m) Himalayan Ranges. Besides, the shrines of Hindus and Buddhists are also being restored in this tourist destination of Pokhara.

What we can ensure now is that when you come to visit Nepal post pandemic, you will find completely a new Nepal. The trekking regions are safe and have become more beautiful as the vegetation and wildlife are protected at fullest. The lack of pollutants in the atmosphere has ensured a better visibility that you can have the glittering Himalayas from quite farther. This is summer season, which is not much appropriate for trekking in Nepal. As the lower lands get heavy rain falls, there are chances for flood and landslides resulting into increased difficulty in traveling.

After this season, autumn season, which is the peak season of trekking in Nepal, begins the rainy season ends. As the weather and temperature remains stable, you can have a better experience than ever before. The scenery of the Himalayas, green forests and lush valleys are more pleasant in this season. In addition to this, autumn is known for the season of feasts and festivals in Nepal. Visiting Nepal in autumn gives you chance for observing celebration of different cultural occasions. Last but not the least; autumn grows varieties of fruit in Nepal that you can also taste the organic juicy fruit while travelling.

Last Say,

Yes, COVID-19 has adversely affected all the sectors of the society everywhere in the world. In this scenario, Nepal is not unaffected and untouched by this deadly virus. However, the cases of infection and death have not been much aggravating to the date. Tourism industry of Nepal along with the tourist destinations throughout the nation are safe. They have become more beautiful than ever as the environment has been free of CFCs and other pollutants.

When you come here after the situation becomes normal, you will find completely a new and more beautiful Nepal than ever before. To relish a different taste of tour and trekking in Nepal, book the trip with Orbit Alpine Adventure. We provide you the best tour and trekking packages to Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan at the most reasonable cost. Click @ www.orbitalpineadventure.com.