Dashain has brought relief to the hoteliers of Sauraha.
The hotels, which had remained largely deserted for the past two years, were packed this Dashain, giving hope to the tourism entrepreneurs of the area, said Gunaraj Thapaliya, general secretary of the Regional Hotel Association Sauraha.
“This Dashain has shown that domestic tourists are the key to uplifting the nation’s tourism after the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thapaliya said, adding, “In order to revive our country’s tourism, it seems that our focus must be on attracting internal tourists.”
Many of the 110 hotels of Sauraha have been full since the beginning of Dashain with visitors from Kathmandu, Pokhara and other urban centres of the country. One such visitor was Shiva Prasad Adhikari, a merchant from Pokhara, who was found enjoying the Sauraha atmosphere with his family on Saturday.
“We have come to take a break from our busy lives and enjoy the festivals by watching rhinos and riding elephants,” Adhikari told The Rising Nepal, saying that the natural beauty of Sauraha would attract many others like him if conserved and promoted properly.
Another trader from Pokhara Dipesh Poudel also echoed similar sentiments. “Tourists will only come to Sauraha if the forests and the wildlife are conserved,” he said.
With the hotels getting guests again, many of the staff who were on home leave have also been able to return to work. Before the pandemic, the hotels of Sauraha employed nearly 5,000 persons. However, with the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country and the subsequent decline in business, nearly all of them were put on leave. But now, they are coming back to work.
Unethical behaviour and lack of safety precautions
The District Administration Office of Chitwan has asked tourism businesses to adopt safety precautions like masks and social distancing and prioritise the health of their guests. However, some visitors complain that the hotels have not heeded the administration’s request.
“When conducting their Tharu cultural programme, the Culture House of Sauraha crammed hundreds of guests into a hall without any precautions in place,” informed a tourist who asked to remain anonymous. “No one was given masks or sanitizers and there was no interpersonal distance.”
Similarly, some other tourists accused the hotels of cheating them. They complain that they have not been given the discounts and rebates they were initially promised.
“We were told that there was a 20 per cent discount package for domestic tourists but when we got here, we had to pay the full amount,” one tourist said.
Similarly, another person having food at a restaurant near the Rapti River said, “Not only have we not got any discount but we have had to pay more than the price stated by the hotel on their rate card.”
Thapaliya though refuted the accusations that the hoteliers had not followed the government’s health protocol. “We have taken all the health precautions to ensure the safety of our guests.”
Regarding complaints of cheating, he requested the visitors to formally approach the Regional Hotel Association. “We will take necessary action against the guilty businesses.”
Source : TRN,