March 17: The tourism industry of Nepal has been badly affected in the peak season due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread to at least 143 countries. The fear of contracting the deadly disease has resulted in low arrival of tourists. This has led to just 10 percent occupancy in most of the hotels in the country.
Domestic helicopter service has come to a complete halt due to lack of passengers, most of whom are usually foreigners.
According to stakeholders, the monthly loss of the hotel industry is estimated to be around Rs 1.8 billion. Similarly, the domestic airline companies have incurred losses worth Rs 11 billion due to the coronavirus outbreak, that originated in China’s Wuhan in late December last year and has spread across the globe now.
Almost 60 percent of international flights have been cancelled after March 10 as government authorities worldwide took drastic measures to curb the spread of the disease which has taken more than 6500 lives across the world. The number of international air passengers has reportedly declined by 70 percent.
According to the President of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) Shreejana Rana, the hotel entrepreneurs have had to incur losses worth Rs 1.8 billion in a month due to the low arrival of tourists amid coronavirus concerns. The hotel business has reduced by 90 percent as domestic tourists also started taking precaution by cancelling their trips.
Rana further said that hotels should have at least 40 percent occupancy to generate profit. She added that the hotel entrepreneurs had invested heavily for the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign but now their efforts have gone down the drain. In such a situation, she demanded the government to declare an emergency and provide relief packages.
Meanwhile, Rameshwar Thapa, president of Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), said that the helicopter service and short take off and landing (STOL) have been the most affected in the aviation sector. He said that the peak season for helicopter service begins from mid-March but 95 percent of helicopters are grounded at this period.
There are altogether 33 helicopters belonging to 10 companies in Nepal.