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Impact of Covid-19 in Tourism Sector of Nepal

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Tourism plays an important role in the economic development of Nepal. As being a beautiful landlocked country with a combination of mountains, hills, and plain land, every year many tourists visit the country. This has provided various employment opportunities to the people and helped them to uplift their living standards. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed 7.9% of the total in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 1.05 million had got job opportunities. However, due to the global pandemic, there has been a massive impact of COVID-19 in tourism.

Most Awaited “Visit Nepal 2020”

2020 was supposed to be a special year for the tourism and hospitality sector. In fact, the government declared the campaign “Visit Nepal 2020”, aiming to attract 2 million tourists from all over the world. This would generate about 2 billion in revenue with thousands of new employment opportunities. Unfortunately, the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Nepal on 23rd January. Hence, the government had to suspend the campaign on 3rd March.

Rise of COVID-19

After the rising COVID cases in the country, the government initiated the lockdown. All the national and international flights were suspended. With this, the tourist arrival rate has declined to below 10 percent, from 70 percent before the Covid-19 outbreak. There was the cancellation of the hotels and other tourists’ bookings as well as all spring mountaineering expeditions, including Everest ascents, and resulted in job loss of around 13,000 tours, trekking, and mountain guides, and other hospitality employees. About 10,000 tourists that had arrived in Nepal before the lockdown was left stranded and many of them eventually repatriated.

About 91% of hotels and restaurants were shut down, during the lockdown. Only 1.8% of hotels and restaurants ran at full capacity with health safety measures in place. Though they have resumed their operation after the government’s decision to reopen the tourism business, they are still uncertain if they will make any profit anytime soon. The fear of coronavirus has prevented people from traveling and the government has also warned not to host big parties and celebrations. As a result, the hotels and restaurants seem to reopen just to run the business rather than making some profit.

Effect on Nepalese Economy

Remittance has been a major chunk of Nepal’s foreign currency earning sources with around $6 billion US dollars of an annual budget. However, due to the pandemic, migrant workers are in a problem. They are not able to return to the country as international flights are operated in a limited way. The High-Level Coordination Committee for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 had informed Nepalese abroad to remain where they were and appealed to host countries to offer them protection on 24th March.

Corona cases are rising all around the globe. All the host countries are also confused about how to handle foreign employees in their country. This leads to these migrant workers bewildered.

Positive Sparkle

Despite the difficult time, Bahrain Prince Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa came to Nepal and scaled Mt Lobuche and Mt Manaslu successfully. His team included a high profile climbers and three British citizens of the Bahrain Royal Guard Expedition. This can be seen as a positive sparkle during the dark time. The government has decided to allow foreigners who want to visit Nepal for mountaineering and trekking started from 17th October. These foreigners should be able to provide a medical report confirming that they don’t have an infection with coronavirus.

With one step at a time, let’s hope that the tourism sector will slowly regain its business following the safety guidelines. Nepal with its beautiful monuments and natural scenery waits for both foreign and domestic tourists to successfully win the virus and enjoy traveling with their loved ones. 

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