Thursday, 24 September, 2020

Tourism Takes A Knock

Radhika Thapa

The coronavirus outbreak has affected every sector of human life, with tourism being the hardest hit. The first case of coronavirus was detected in Nepal on January 23, 2020. Analysing the global scenario, the government suspended the Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020 until 2022.
The Visit Nepal campaign was expected to generate many jobs in addition to boosting the image of country. The campaign was launched on the back of stable government poised to deliver prosperity and happiness to the people. Even the international community was supportive of the VNY. The country had expected a large inflow of tourists from China to make the drive a grand success.
When the second case of the virus disease was confirmed, the country imposed lockdown and suspended all the national and international flights. This led to the cancellation of all hotel and tour booking. Due to the increased number of virus cases, the government again imposed the prohibitory orders in some parts of the country.
This has resulted in the loss of jobs on a massive scale. In addition to this, it has destroyed livelihoods of thousands of people. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the tourism economy beyond imagination. The pandemic has created endless fear and shock among tourism entrepreneurs.
No doubt, tourism is s key sector for creating job opportunities and earning foreign currencies. It generates 1.5 million jobs for the people within the country. By 2029, tourism sector is expected to absorb 1.35 million people. It is also providing a large number of jobs for both low-skilled workers and high-skilled human resources. It employs the people on a seasonal basis directly and also provides part-time job opportunities. Tourism is also indirectly supporting the local community to thrive and sustain economically and ecologically.
The travel trade is the backbone of the mountain economy and is complementary to the handicraft and garment industry. A large portion of the restaurant business relies on tourism and this ultimately complements to the agricultural sector. The uncertainty created by COVID-19 and resultant restrictive measures weakened the capacity of the tourism industry.
The disruption in the global and domestic movement crippled tourism sector worldwide. In this situation, it is natural for tourism entrepreneurs to demand economic package for the management of the workers and professionals who have been laid off. One option is to ask the people working in the tourism industry to accept unpaid leave but this is not the sustainable solution because the unemployed also need money to keep their hearth going. It is immoral to leave them in the lurch in the time of such a medical emergency.
The government has to provide soft loans to tourism entrepreneurs to revive their business. It is rational to mobilise the employee welfare fund at Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to avert the impending economic crisis facing the sector. This is the difficult moment that calls for collaboration among all stakeholders, including the government agencies and tourism entrepreneurs to give a fillip to the tourism sector crippled by COVID-19. 

How do you feel after reading this news?