Covid-19, Its Impact in Nepalese Tourism and Nepalese tourism post Covid-19

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The Corona virus was first traced on 7th January 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province of China. It has been more than a year since the virus outbreak but there is no sign of normalcy in Nepal. The country is still under lockdown and all economic activities are put on hold. The government of Nepal is thriving to accumulate resources to fight the virus with international community and they are stepping ahead to lend a hand in this fight against the deadly virus with Nepal.

Table of Contents

The virus affected the whole world. From developed countries like the USA, the UK, Italy, and France to small and least developed countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The virus brought the entire world to a standstill. The world wasn’t prepared for the battle against the virus, so the World Health Organization advised Lockdown in the most affected places. The virus spread escalated at very rapid pace that the entire world was under lockdown within less than a month. 

Countries sealed their borders, stopping international trade and tourism. The lockdown restricted travel and tourism in domestic level too. Service sectors, manufacturing, transportation, education and trade and commerce of all kinds were brought to a hault. 

In Nepal, the first case of COVID-19 was reported on 23rd January 2020. Responding to the circular by WHO and COVID cases increasing exponentially globally, the government of Nepal, suspended international flights and sealed borders. Nepal was celebrating “Visit Nepal 2020” a campaign to boost tourism and its economy and it was inaugurated on 1st January 2020 by the president of Nepal. Despite a lot of growing public concern nationally and internationally, the campaign was suspended due to the pandemic. The government suspended all visas and restricted tourism activities to ensure isolation and proper lockdowns. This led to the stop in tourism. All sorts of hospitality business were shut, from hotels, to restaurants and bars, from travel and tours to recreational activities. 

Economic prospect highlights of tourism in Nepalese and Global economy

First, let’s put a highlight on global tourism industry. The global tourism industry contributes 2.9 trillion us dollars to the global economy which is 7% of the global trade. This makes tourism the third largest industry in the world. 144 million jobs are supported directly by tourism industry worldwide, which is 6.7 % of the total jobs available globally. Tourism accounts 1 in every 10 jobs in the world. 

Tourism accounts to 7.9% of the nation’s Gross domestic product (GDP) contributing 240.7 billion Nepalese rupees making it one of the strongest supports to the national economy. 1.05 million Jobs were supported by tourism in Nepal. Nepal was aiming to increase the number of tourists, increasing the stake of tourism in national economy and creating thousands of new jobs. In 2019, Nepal hosted 1.19 million tourists and the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign aimed to increase the number of tourists visiting Nepal to two million. But, everything went in contradiction due to the pandemic. 

Highlighting Effects on Economic aspect of tourism due to COVID in Nepal and in the world

Since the pandemic hit the world in January, 2020 the GDP contributed by tourism was forecasted to be dropped to 1.5%-2.8% by the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), 1.2 trillion US dollars loss in tourism trade and 100-120 million jobs are at risk worldwide. 

Here is the data published by Nepal Tourism Board, showcasing the impact of Pandemic in Nepalese Tourism Industry. The number of tourists arriving Nepal is the lowest in the past few decades, affecting the national economy, its GDP, employment drastically. It is reported that Nepal loosed 330 million US dollars in tourism during to the pandemic as per the news article published in the NEW Indian Express. 

Tourism being the most sensitive of all the trade and businesses has direct impact on it. Nepal’s tourism has never been steady and is always on its highs and lows. We Nepalese are known for bouncing back and so will the Nepalese tourism after the post COVID period. 

Post COVID prospects of tourism 

It is human nature to travel and it will never stop. The COVID will limit the growth of tourism for a few years probably 2-3 years then everything will be back to normal. Having said this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow health and safety instructions in the future. Post COVID era is going to be a completely different era in tourism. Since, it is about travelling new places and meeting new people, safety measures are to be strictly followed. Marketing of tourism products and services will shift to digital platforms and transactions will be cashless. These are the very few highlights of changes in the post covid era in tourism. 

Let us go point wise for some safety measure and health guide lines for our clear understanding. 

a. Temperature screening of all personnel entering the property by trained personnel wearing appropriate protective gear 

b. For larger hotels, consider a sanitization tunnel for staff, guests, luggage and goods. 

c. Install an information board with COVID-19 safety and precautionary measures in a visible area of hotel 

d. In case of anyone found symptomatic, hotels shall process to refer them to a government designated health facility 

e. Mandatory wearing of Masks by all 

f. At entry point a log book Sheet with name, contact details of the guest date and time of arrival/departure to be maintain for contact tracing. 

g. Provision of COVID-19 audio broadcast in the premises 

h. Stock masks, gloves and mini sanitizers (complimentary/for sale) for in-house guests. 

i. Social Distancing Measures, Hand Cleaning, and Respiratory Hygiene 

j. Monitoring Guests for Potential Infection 

k. All staff in each service providing facility should perform personal hygiene like regular hand washing and respiratory hygiene frequently. 

l. Guests should be reminded when entering and leaving the restaurant, breakfast, or dining room to disinfect their hands with disinfectant gel, preferably located at the entrance to those facilities.

Government support to post covid tourism revival

The ministry of Finance also expressed its support to Nepalese tourism sector in the lastest budget. Some points that are very impactful in the revival of tourism in Nepal are:

The government will set aside a fund of Rs50 billion to support small and medium tourism enterprises.

Soft loans of 5% to those who lost jobs in tourism sector. 

Income tax rebate for this fiscal year of up to 20% 

Loans will be interest free. 

Marketing strategies post COVID era 

Step 1: Get the prime message out: We are open for business, tourists are welcome and wanted. 

Step 2: Setting out the facts. Our destinations, hotels, tours, attractions, flights are operating. Outline restrictions and limitations. 

Step 3: Complementary alliances. Joint arrangements with hotels, resorts, restaurants, land tours, and airlines.

Step 4: Restoring confidence in source markets. Travel agents and travel writers’ familiarization trips: choose opinion leaders.

Step 5: Protecting profitability during marketing recovery: off er incentives which will enable the business to sustain profitability, value add rather than discount. 

Step 6: Reimage the business and the destination: re theme advertising and promotion. 

Step 7: Incentives which attract tourists, value added products.

Step 8: Publicize the positives. Positive news of resurgence of tourist arrivals, rebuilding and enhancements of infrastructure. 

Step 9: Reporting and monitoring progress: publicize the changes and enhancements made. The focus should be the big picture policy initiatives that can be considered, such as visa waiver changes.

The government should also provide a grace period on local taxes, simplify visa rules, reduce or waive travelers’ taxes and support economically hit destinations with promotion and marketing to attract tourists

In conclusion

The tourism industry fell to rock bottom due to the pandemic globally. It suffered a lot of financial and job loss creating serious problems to the economies of countries and those employees associated with tourism. There are many impacts of COVID i.e. social impact, psychological impacts and many more but here we only discussed about financial and economic aspect of COVID impact in Nepal and globally. 

The situation is being getting back to normal in most of the countries and a few countries still thriving to win it over. The world is united to fight against the virus and everyone is eager to put normalcy back to life. There are plans, strategies and business modules revised to bring back tourism back to action. The situation will be normal and tourism will flourish contributing to the economy and employment.