Bandipur Becomes Deserted Again, Entrepreneurs Demand Relief Package

Bandipur, one of the most popular sites both for domestic and international tourists, once again wears a deserted look, after the second wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the country.
The second wave of the virus has already affected all business and service related sectors.
The tourism of Bandipur had gradually revived after the country lifted the restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector during the first wave of pandemic.
If it were normal times, Bandipur would be abuzz with visitors from home and abroad.
An excellent view of mountains, like Annapurna range, Macchapurchhre, Manasalu, mount Buddha, Ganesh, Langtang and other mountain peaks has already started welcoming the tourists with the weather turning fairer and more pleasant.
And its hilltop settlement which boasts of rich heritage and architecture are awaiting fanfare and merry making.
However, following the surging cases of COVID-19 lately, Bandipur, the queen of the hills, has once again worn a deserted look.
Hotel entrepreneurs of Bandipur are worried after the arrival of tourists has sharply declined.
After the country lifted the restriction imposed in the hospitality sector earlier, tourism entrepreneurs were very hopeful that business would get back on track, said Sangita Pradhan, a tourism entrepreneur.
But once again the tourism sector is facing the same crisis and they are worried about the interests of bank loans they have taken to expand their business.
“With the arrival of the Nepali New Year, number of tourists visiting Bandipur had also increased. Considering this, we have called all our staff back to work and added facilities in our hotels by taking loans.”
“But our happiness didn’t last for long. The tourism business has again come to a standstill. Everyone is disappointed at this stage,” said Pradhan.
Baisa Gurung, the outgoing chairman of the Bandipur Tourism Entrepreneurs’ Committee, said with the surging cases of COVID-19, tourism entrepreneurs were compelled to lock their hotels, as there are no tourists to visit the place.
The rural municipality has also imposed a ban on the arrival of outsiders, said Gurung, adding that hotel bookings are already cancelled and the market wore a deserted look.
“The second wave of pandemic seems to affect the tourism sector more adversely than earlier, as it is spreading much faster and death rate is also high,” he added.
“The government should pay attention to reduce the interest rates, as 90 per cent entrepreneurs have expanded their business by taking loans from banks,” said Gurung.
Since banks and financial institutions are vying for profit, the government should take an initiative to introduce a relief package, like reducing interest rates and exempt interest during the time of lockdown, he added.
“Hotel entrepreneurs are now worried about their staff and loans, which they have taken to expand their business,” he added.
Kisan Pradhan, chairman of the committee, said the businessmen were in trouble as they were still struggling to recover the loss caused by the first wave of pandemic.
He said that around 500 tourists would visit Bandipur daily if there was no pandemic.
Raju Baniya, former chairman of Bandipur Community Homestay, said that this tourist site has already worn a deserted look due to the second wave of the pandemic.
There are nine to 10 hotels under construction in Bandipur. Currently, 70 hotels, including big and small ones, are in operation. Besides this, four groups have been operating homestays.
All these hotels are able to accommodate 1,300 to 1,400 tourists at a time.