Tuesday Jul 5, 2022
Tuesday Jul 5, 2022

Omicron keeps tourism domestic

2022 Jan 27, 7:14, Kathmandu

The tourism industry, which was recently returning back to its normal, has seen problems resurface again . The recent surge in positive cases resulted in many tourists canceling their trips to Nepal. Despite it being less fatal, Omicron has been proven to be highly contagious, thus making traveling riskier. Restrictions in sectors such as commuting, hotels etc. also results in the downfall of the travel and tourism industry as these are all linked together.

 “The third wave has affected us the same way as the first and second wave did. Various protocols such as quarantine, vaccination and PCR tests, etc. , albeit necessary, are discouraging for foreigners”, says Prajwal Khatri, Ride and Tour Coordinator of Sacred Summit. “We were slowly getting some pickup. There were many inquiries during November/December. But the Omicron wave’s rise has affected the business severely”, says Sunil Rana, Managing Director of Adventure World Trails and Travels Pvt. Ltd. “The fatality rate of this variant being pretty low is a positive boost to tourism as well”, he adds.

There are a lot of inquiries coming from tourists around the world who want to visit Nepal. However, the government has not come up with proper plans and policies regarding tourism and the pandemic yet. This has become a major problem for travel agencies around the country. “There have definitely been inquiries from various foreigners. If the government permits us to operate, then we can definitely work with proper protocols and preventive measures in place”, says Surendra Guruwacharya, CEO of B-Line Tours & Travel. “If there are concrete policies in place regarding our issues, it would be easier for us to work our way around it properly”, he adds.

A total of 1,143 foreign tourists visited Nepal through the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in June.
A total of 1,143 foreign tourists visited Nepal through the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in June.

During these difficult times for the tourism industry, domestic tourists have helped a lot in keeping the businesses running. “Domestic tourists are very important at present as the flow of foreigners is very low”, says Guruwacharya. “They have helped a lot in making a positive impact”, he adds. However, only client-to-client businesses are profitable. Tour operators, guides and travel agencies still struggle as domestic tourists prefer to go straight to the hotels rather than going on a trip.

Travel agencies have been following government policies regarding Covid very strictly. Most travel agencies require PCR and antigen tests before and during travel. “We try to convince clients to get tested by offering to pay for their tests from our own pockets if they hesitate”, says Rana. The hotels and vehicles are sanitized before and after being used and all the staff are vaccinated. Similarly, masks and sanitizers are always available. “We monitor the health and hygiene of our clients right from the moment they arrive in Nepal. We had to stop welcoming the tourists with garlands to maintain social distancing”, says Guruwacharya.

“Tourism is a vibrant industry for Nepal and there have been a lot of inquiries regarding the situation of the pandemic in the country. However, since no one knows what the future holds for us, we are unable to formulate any strategy that we can implement for the future”, says Guruwacharya

“Of course, we have not been able to do business like we used to do pre-COVID, but at the same time we cannot say that there has been no business at all either,” says Rana. “The third wave has not hit us as hard as the previous ones yet but definitely the business can be much better than what we are currently doing”, he adds. “We have been getting inquiries for February and March already. If everything goes to plan without any lockdowns, we might see better days for the industry”, he says.


Tourism industry covid-19 tourists smart lockdowns travel OMICRON pandemic Domestic Tourists
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