December 7: At a time when arrival of tourists is growing in Nepal, a new variant of coronavirus is expected to push the tourism sector towards another crisis. According to hoteliers, tourists have kept their booking on hold after the Omicron variant was detected in Nepal.
In November 2021, more tourists visited Nepal than the previous month. According to the Nepal Tourism Board, 26,135 tourists visited Nepal in November compared to 23,284 in October. As the number of tourists was gradually increasing, Omicron variant has once again created panic. Therefore, various countries have banned flights and travel, while Nepal has also banned people coming from nine countries from entering Nepal, including South Africa and Hong Kong.
Yogendra Shakya, a tourism entrepreneur who is also the executive chairman of Ace Hotel and Resort, said that the overall occupancy of hotels on average is 30 percent in 2021. He said that the booking could freeze till January, February, and spring.
Stating that India has stopped tourists from entering India from Lumbini, he said that there is a situation of ‘wait and see’ for some time now.
“While the surge of Covid-19 has started to grow, we had projected that we would have to wait until 2024 for the tourism to return to normalcy,” said Shakya.
He said that tourists are now waiting and watching the impact of Omicron. "Tourists are in a hold-on situation right now," he said.
Nepal Tourism Board, on the other hand, has claimed that it will continue the work of tourism promotion and publicity. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board Dhananjay Regmi said that the current publicity will get continuity by adopting caution. "We were horrified at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, but it didn't create a catastrophe for this sector," he said.
He added that the board will organize tourist marts in all seven states and continue the promotion of Border City. He said that the board will work to increase the number of tourists now. With the identification of the new variant that appeared in the country, the board has resorted to the strategy of attracting tourists from India more than other countries.