KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 7

Tourism stakeholders have recommended both the government and private sector to begin preparations for the post-pandemic phase. Speaking during a virtual interaction organised by the Society of Economic Journalists Nepal (SEJON) today, stakeholders said that the time has come now to prepare to revive from this situation.

“There are fundamentally two things that we have to tackle with — fear and uncertainty,” said Prachanda Man Shrestha, former CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). The COVID-19 pandemic has created fear and uncertainty among people regarding what the future holds because of the crisis. Thus, there is a need to remove the apprehension that people have and motivate them to travel and for this the stakeholders need to fully assure travellers about the safety of their health during their sojourns, he added.

“Mass tourism has come to a complete halt at present due to the pandemic. Considering this situation we have to implement new strategies to attract and manage tourists in the coming days,” Shrestha said, adding, “The old trend of just promoting destinations will not work anymore.”

According to him, the private sector has to make preparations to lure tourists with attractive destinations and services and help them overcome their fear. “Meanwhile, the government has to bring such a policy that can guarantee the safety of travellers,” opined Shrestha. “And this is the right time to prepare ourselves for the post-pandemic phase as other nations are recovering gradually from this pandemic and we can attract visitors from there,” he added.

He also spoke about the need to introduce a combo package including health safety and insurance for tourists.

Shrestha further highlighted about the affected tourism entrepreneurs.

“Even though the government introduced different relief packages for the industry the implementation aspect seems to be weak due to which it is becoming very difficult for the industry to survive,” he said. “Targeting the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign many investors had invested huge amounts in their businesses, however all in vain now. Thus, the government has to effectively and efficiently implement the relief packages,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Yogendra Shakya, coordinator of Nepal Tourism Year 2011, said that even after the situation normalises it will take at least four to five years for businesses to get back to their earlier position.

“There is no sign of the tourism industry getting back to a normal situation before 2024- 25,” he said. “The government has to take the initiative and the private sector is ready to manage all necessary procedures to resume services.”

Shakya, however, also mentioned that even the government is struggling to collect revenue during this pandemic, hence, it is not wise to be entirely dependent on the government. “Entrepreneurs have to learn to manage their costs.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 8, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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