First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: Tourism stakeholders have said that it will take four to five years for the tourism industry to get back to normal. Speaking during a virtual conference organized by the Society of Economic Journalists – Nepal (SEJON), the concerned stakeholders shared that the tourism sector will not improve unless there is a proper environment for tourists to visit the country, as there is still uncertainty surrounding every sector due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As it will be difficult to attract tourists due to the COVID-19, Prachanda Man Shrestha, former chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board, stressed on the need for the government, private sector and other concerned agencies to focus on novel tourism activities.
Shrestha further added that unlike in the previous years it will be next to impossible to attract large numbers of travelers for the next few years due to the impact of the coronavirus. “The era of mass tourism is over for the moment,” he said, adding, “Now the inflow of tourists will depend on the particular interests of each individual tourist and we will be able to lure visitors only if we focus on this fact.”
Highlighting the increasing fear and uncertainty in the sector, Shrestha emphasized on the need to manage such fear. However, it will still be difficult for the tourism sector due to the uncertainty caused by the virus, added Shrestha. He also emphasized on the need to be focused and determined about what to provide to the tourists.
He mentioned that the pandemic had painted a bleak picture for the tourism sector making the year 2020 as the worst for the industry. Shrestha recalled that the sector was able to manage the impact of the earthquake in a short period of time but the current situation is somewhat different and it will take some time to restore the sector.
Similarly, Yogendra Shakya, coordinator of the Visit Nepal Year 2011, said that it will take four to five years to restore the tourism sector. He stated that the problem created by the coronavirus was probably the biggest problem that the sector has faced till date. “The domestic tourism industry is unlikely to improve before 2024/25,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shrestha mentioned that the country could attract tourists by adopting innovative measures. He gave an insight on the ways the country could attract travelers through effective publicity campaigns. He said that the government had still not publicized about the measures and activities that it had initiated to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country. “Conservation areas have also been closed. There should be some flexibility in such areas,” he added.
He also said that packages should be introduced by including the issues of health security and insurance of the tourists. Stating that the coronavirus has created problems not only in tourism but also in the health, economic and social sectors, Shrestha stressed on policy level management to address the problem.
The government had set a target of attracting two million tourists by declaring 2020 as Visit Nepal year. As per Shrestha, the investments made by the government and the private sector targeting this campaign are now at risk. Although the Monetary Policy of the current fiscal year has introduced stimulus package for the tourism sector, it has not been effective due to lack of proper implementation, said Shrestha.
Likewise, Shakya also stressed on the need to implement the package brought through the budget to help uplift the tourism sector.
Stating that the government itself is struggling to collect revenue amid the pandemic, Shakya emphasized that the private sector needs to make efforts on its own and not just depend on the government. He said that the companies need to manage their expenses and focus on how unnecessary costs could be cut down if they wanted to survive this crisis.
Shakya also emphasized on the need for coordination between the government and private sector to keep the tourism sector alive. According to him, the private sector is ready to manage all the airports to attract tourists. He also stressed on the need for coordination among stakeholders with different interests in the sector to attract different kinds of tourists.
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