COVID-19 outbreak has affected many people’s lives and has caused widespread disruption in the socio-economic activities of many countries in the world. Several countries in the world have already imposed travel restriction and lockdown to combat COVID-19. The direct impact of the global pandemic has already started to surface in all sectors. Globally, the entire service industries have been seriously hit by the outbreak. Nepal has also fallen a victim to this pandemic and especially the effects of Covid-19 on the tourism industry are irreparable. Despite the various measures taken by the government of Nepal to control the situation, the infection rate and death toll are rising day by day.
The negative impacts of Covid-19 have already started to surface in a lot of sectors in Nepal. Especially tourism in Nepal has been seriously hit by the outbreak. The entire nation was excited about the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign and was hoping to welcome more than two million tourists in the country. The government had already allocated 100 million rupees for the campaign. Several hotels, restaurants, trekking routes were added up to make the visit Nepal 2020 campaign successful. But hope quickly turned into despair after the first case of Coronavirus was seen in March. Things quickly took a negative turn after the government of Nepal declared all modes of transport ban from the month of March to combat the Covid-19. From domestic to international, all flights have been cancelled until further notice in order to control the spread of the virus. Tourists who were already in Nepal were also deported back to their own nations.
Due to the fear of virus outbreak from the inflow of visitors, the government of Nepal had to suspend Visit Nepal 2020 and the aim of bringing two million tourists in Nepal remained as a dream. After the lockdown, all international and domestic flights are cancelled and with this the tourist arrival rate has reduced significantly. This in turn has seriously affected the tourism sector, which contributes 8 percent to Nepal’s total economy. All types of tourist activities are cancelled which has increased the unemployment rate in the tourism industry. Hotel occupancy rates in all the major tourist areas in Nepal have fallen down.
All types of arrival visas for visitors are cancelled and visitors from Europe and the Americas are not likely to visit Nepal any time soon because these countries have been severely hit by the Nobel coronavirus. The top two economically growing countries India and China, from where Nepal gets most of the visitors are on high alert. These countries are strictly screening visitors arriving to and from Nepal. Because of this, the entirety of the travel and tourism industry has fallen down. The prolonged lockdown has already damaged the overall economy of the country. With no signs of the pandemic in control, the tourism in Nepal is most likely to collapse in upcoming days. The main source of income for local people has been disturbed. The tourism sector has never seen such great loss since it’s beginning. Many people were directly and indirectly were employed because of tourism. Many people had to close down their shops and had to pay high rent during the lockdown period. Some have undergone financial crisis and may not be able to resume their businesses even after the lockdown. One of the seriously hit tourism sector businesses is helicopter service in Nepal. Helicopter chartering has stopped since the imposition of lockdown due to COVID-19. The people’s livelihood has been pretty difficult and undergoing financial crisis. Since there are no tourists, there’s no one to charter helicopter service and it’s pretty difficult for all the staff to get paid. Daily expenditure and needs without any income have become a living hell for the people.
Imposing the lockdown and cancelling the visit Nepal campaign were two of the hardest measures taken by the government to stop the spread of Covid-19. This cancellation has impacted the overall economy of the country. The revival of the local tourism industry in Nepal is not completely dependent on undoing the lockdown. The government should also come in action by investing in tourism infrastructure and internal promotion.
The government of Nepal needs to understand the priority of the situation and should draft a recovery plan. It cannot be said with absolute certainty about the life of this global pandemic that’s why the government of Nepal should take necessary measures to back its economy by uplifting the tourism sector. Nepal needs to strengthen its health preparedness, prepare a recovery plan to minimize the economic impact and take necessary steps to strengthen the overall economy. Come let’s forget all our differences and join our hands together to fight against the pandemic. Together we can do it and we will revive the economy of our country.