July 31: Small hotels and restaurants have opened from Thursday (July 30) after the government lifted a ban on hospitality industry after ending the months-long lockdown recently.
According to the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) hotels ranging from one star to three stars have resumed their service in Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara, Chitwan and other major tourist destinations across the country.
Besides hotels, trekking and mountaineering companies as well as tour and travel agencies have also started their business after four months of closure.
However, very few big hotels have resumed their business so far. Although five-star hotels like Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu Aloft and Marriot Hotel have reopened, other five-star hotels are yet to resume their service. It is said that the big hotels are not in a mood to resume full-fledged service anticipating lack of customers during the current crisis.
These hotels are making preparations to restart their business but are waiting for international flights to resume first. The government has decided to allow domestic and international flights from August 17.
Hotel entrepreneurs say that they are not in a hurry to reopen their hotels due to lack of internal and foreign tourists as the government is yet to lift the ban on air service.
“Although there is no booking at the moment, we have given the message that the hotel industry has resumed service in Nepal,” said General Secretary of HAN Sajan Shakya, adding, “The government will allow operation of air service from August 17 so we are in a wait and watch situation.”
Although the government has allowed hotel industry to resume their business, hotel entrepreneurs complain that the health protocols issued by the government is not clear. There is confusion regarding unclear policy on arrival of foreign tourists. The government has not stated clearly whether foreign tourists will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days or not and if PCR test alone is enough to let them in, said Shakya.
HAN estimates a sharp decline in arrival of tourists this season. During last year, around 250,000 tourists had visited Nepal during this time. However, stakeholders believe it will take at least three to four years before the situation normalizes.