Saturday, 25 March, 2023

Tourism Bounces Back

Birendra Madai

As the holiday season began last month, we can observe the social media flooding with posts and pictures of people holidaying, trekking and camping along with adventurous recreational activities such as paragliding and boating.
In view of COVID-19 pandemic that continues to rage, it sounds reckless to go outing for pleasure which is non-essential activity. Despite the health hazard, internal tourism has restarted with precaution, igniting hope for business and job creation. A complete recovery is possible only when international tourism returns to normal.
People are visiting different places for holidaying amid pandemic. This shows how significant it is to rejuvenate and pass quality time with family, friends and relatives. Domestic travel and tourism is showing some signs of rebound after a devastating blow to the sector this year.
According to the Department of Immigration, Nepal had greeted 1.19 million foreign tourists by the end of 2019 and was planning to commemorate the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign aiming to attract 2 million tourists, almost double from the previous year. But it was forced to postpone the mega tourism campaign owing to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation stated that tourism sector incurred a loss worth 332 USD till July 21 due to the pandemic. Destinations that count for international visitors, business and events have been mostly affected throughout the globe.
The OECD now estimates that international tourism will fall by around 80 per cent in 2020. The cataclysm is putting millions of jobs in the tourism sector at stake. It will be tough to restore travellers’ confidence and support tourism businesses to adapt and survive.
Considering the present scenario, it is believed that the tourism sector will take at least two years to recover. In this moment, sustaining domestic and global tourism is the only rational option to revive the economy.
Meanwhile, a Bahraini expedition, led by the prince of the Middle Eastern Kingdom, has returned home after summiting two Nepali mountains - namely Lobuche and Manaslu. Following their departure the prince of Qatar and his team boarded their flight with Kailash helicopter to Lukla for an expedition to Mt Amadablam.
These two high profile tourist visits will surely boost international tourism and spread a message that Nepal is safe for international tourists even during the corona pandemic. Amidst optimism we cannot let our guard down and forget the fact that coronavirus can seriously sicken and even kill people.
It is necessary that we adopt proper precautions as we pursue our wanderlust visiting tourism hubs such as Pokhara, Chitwan and Dhulikhel. Likewise, all three levels of government should formulate and implement standard operating procedures and the safety guidelines to mitigate the high risks of COVID-19.
Finally, the crisis has given an opportunity for co-ordinated actions from all three tiers of government given the interdependent nature of tourism services. Corona crisis can be instead turned into a blessing in disguise for countries like ours to build a more resilient tourism economy in the post COVID-19 era.