Impact of COVID-19 on the Tourism Industry Reporter
May 16, 2021

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Anu Shrestha:  Nepal is a beautiful country, rich in ancient culture & traditions and has a great history. It’s a small country with diverse natural conditions; it’s rich in natural beauty and natural destinations and has ecological varieties. There is diversity in the physical features and structures; from the lush green jungle of Terai to the hill stations of hilly region and snowy peaks of the himalayan chain.

Nepal is a sacred land for Hindus and Buddhists. It is also known as a beautiful garden with different flowers; Nepal is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. There are more than 125 ethnic groups, 123 dialects spoken and several religious communities in Nepal. The world highest peak: Mount Everest and third highest peak: Kanchenjunga lies in Nepal.

Foreign tourists walking on hillock in Pancthar district after attending annual yak festival in 2018. Photo: Suraj Hazare Dahal/Eadarsha

The Last Resort Bungee in Nepal is in number 11 of the highest bungee jumps in the world with 160 meters. It offers different types of vibrant cultural experiences, adventures, heartwarming beauty to the tourist. Nepal is also one of the best tourism destinations in the entire world as tourist can enjoy different types of activities in Nepal like; trekking, rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, rock climbing, hiking, and so on.

Around 272,000 people who were engaged in this sector lost their jobs, 2600 trekking agencies were closed down, and 73 rafting agencies were forced to put their boats on stand.

Additionally, tourism industry is one of the largest industries in Nepal and is a great source of income for the people in Nepal. Hence, many people’s job is linked with tourism industry. According to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Nepal, tourism sector has been contributing 7.9% to Nepal’s economy as tourism is one of the mainstay of Nepalese economy and also a major source of foreign exchange and revenue. Nepal’s tourism sector generates Rs.240.7 billion in revenue and support more than Rs.1.05 million jobs directly and indirectly last year, according to the annual world Travel & Tourism Council research report.

Subsequently, tourism industry supports the household of millions of people of Nepal. Furthermore, unemployment is one of the biggest economic problems in Nepal, due to the involvement of tourism industry Nepal was able to solve small portion of unemployment but now tourism industry has also gravely suffered from economic losses due to the pandemic.

A foreign tourist walking in alpine forest of Rara national park. Photo: Suraj Hazare Dahal/Eadarsha

In 2015 due to earthquake the tourism industry of Nepal was affected, similarly now in 2020 tourism industry of Nepal has collapsed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Nepal has suffered a great loss in different economic sector of Nepal. It is estimated that Nepal could record a real GDP at the basic prices of around two percent or lower, this will severely affect a country where 18.7% of its population lives below poverty line.

According to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the number of incoming tourist has decreased from 81,273 in January 2019 to 79,686 in January 2020, down by two percent. Since March 2020, tourist arrival has almost been stopped even though air lines have been opened since mid-August 2020. Therefore, it shows how COVID-19 has impacted on the business that is related with tourism industry.

Moreover, around 272,000 people who were engaged in this sector lost their jobs, 2600 trekking agencies were closed down, and 73 rafting agencies were forced to put their boat on stand, and forced around 20,000 tour & trekking guides to not work. As from the above information it is clear that the people who are engaged in tourism sector has suffered a great loss and has decreased the GDP of nation Currently, everyone is facing numerous problems and is trying their best to solve their problems.

In this phase, what can be done in order to maintain tourism industry in this condition? According to the World Bank, for Nepal to emerge stronger from this crisis, it will be necessary to adapt quickly to this reality. At first, the only thing we all should do is fight against COVID-19. It will certainly take time but it will be effective to uplift the economy of the nation. Then there arises a question regarding, “How could we possibly fight against the COVID-19?” For this purpose we should follow different preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For instance, everyone must maintain at least 2-metres distance between others, wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible and should use sanitizer frequently. Even after the condition becomes stable we should follow all these preventive measures. As Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by two great nations we could possibly get help from them to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recently India has donated AstraZeneca vaccines on January 20. Initially, the vaccine was provided to the health and security workers now, the vaccine is being provided to the older citizens. Consequently, it will help to stabilize the situation of the pandemic and will also helps to improve the current condition of tourism industry.

Recently, prohibitory order has enforced in Kathmandu valley from April 26 and has been extended to May 27, but there are high chances that it would get extended after that. During previous year’s lockdown even though there was restriction to go outside, the main road were empty but the inner roads were crowded, people were meeting each other casually and were traveling from district to district with the recommendation of leaders and government officials.

In order to prevent the same mistakes there should be strict punishment for those people who violate the rules and not only the government should focus on lockdown but also in the health sectors. The government should provide extra bonus for the contributions of first line health workers and law enforcement officers. Not long ago government of Nepal has stared online paying system for electricity bills just like that government could conduct online payment system for all types of transactions.

However, the main thing we should focus on is our health as a small carelessness in our health may lead to a grave illness as we have a great example i.e. COVID 19. As the popular quote states “Health is Wealth”, which would mean if our health is in a good state then we will be able to achieve different economic goals. We can see that how COVID-19 has caused the economic condition of different nations to fall. It means that health is key component to lead the economic condition of a nation. Hence, it is evident that the majority of economic problems have risen due to our own lack of cautiousness for our health, meaning that is necessary to prioritize our health and take proper care of it.

Anu is BBA first semester student at Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM)