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Hotels in Pokhara to remain shut till mid-October



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By Ramesh Poudel

Pokhara, May 20: Hoteliers of Pokhara have said that they would not be able to resume their business halted by COVID-19 pandemic before mid-October.
According to Western Regional Hotel Association Pokhara hotels cannot be opened before mid-October as operating business as per the WHO standards is impossible in the present condition.
“It is still uncertain about the end of the lockdown and the effect of COVID-19 will also remain even after the termination of the lockdown. Foreign tourists will not come soon. If domestic tourists start coming, it is very difficult to provide service as per the standards of WHO,” said Bikal Tulachan, president of the association.
It is said that it required one to two years for the hotel industry to be normal from the current crisis. As a result, a large number of workers working in tourism city of Pokhara would lose their jobs for long.
Tourism entrepreneur Naresh Bhattarai said that big hotels of Pokhara, including Hotel Grand, Fishtail, Barahi, Temple Tree and Landmark were providing employment to only 15 per cent of their staff during the lockdown.
All other staff members have been sent to their home as per the no-work-no-pay policy, he said, adding that there was no other alternative to them when their turnover fell to almost zero.
Bhattarai expressed his dissatisfaction over the reluctance of the government to introduce relief package for the tourism sector in its recently introduced policy and programme for the next fiscal year.
Former member of Nepal Tourism Bird (NTB) Agni Kandel said that the government should bring relief package as per the feelings of tourism entrepreneurs.
“The government urged the private sector to increase investment for the preparation of Visit Nepal Year 2020. Responding to this, the private sector also increased investment taking loan from banks. The government cannot now ignore the problem of tourism entrepreneurs showing this crisis,” Kandel said.
The association has already urged the government to manage the exemption of rent to those running in rented houses and bring package for the livelihood of workers losing jobs from hotels.
There is investment of around Rs 400 billion in tourism sector of Pokhara. More than 400 hotels having bed capacity of around 30,000 are registered in the association.
Around 25,000 workers are involved in hotels and restaurants of Pokhara, of which 80 per cent have been sent home on unpaid leave due to the effect of COVID-19.

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