Revival of Nepal’s tourism industry will take 5 years – experts

Boats sit on an idyllic Phewa Lake in Pokhara (File Photo/October, 2019)

In 2020, Nepal was all set to mark a year long tourism festival. The festival, under the banner of Visit Nepal 2020 was supposed to welcome 2 million visitors in Nepal – and then the pandemic hit.

Thousands of tourism entrepreneurs, who in anticipation of the boom in the industry, had made significant investment to welcome the 2 million tourists – now, experts are estimating it may take up to 5 years before the tourism industry revives and thrives.

Stakeholders expressed this view while speaking at a video conference organised by the Society of Economic Journalists’ Nepal (SEJON) on Monday.

Former chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Prachanda Man Shrestha said ‘he did not expect tourism in Nepal to bounce back like it did after the 2015 Earthquake’.

“Instead, it depends upon a favourable environment for tourist arrivals after the pandemic”, he added.

Tourists enjoy a sunrise view on the Himalayas from Poon Hill in October, 2019.

He was also of the view that the Covid-19 pandemic could possibly have changed toursim trends. “The era of mass tourism has gone. In coming days, travelers will choose only the area of special interest,” Shrestha said. “Tourists can be attracted if innovations are made in the tourism sector”, he added.

He stressed on the need for managing marketing activities to bring limited number of tourists ensuring health safety protocols of the World Health Organisation.

Tourism entrepreneur and coordinator of Nepal Tourism Year 2020 Yogendra Shakya said that the tourism industry was passing through a crisis whose difficulty was earlier inexperienced, and ‘couldn’t have possibly been fathomed’.

“No significant improvement in tourism industry can be expected before 2024/25,” Shakya while stressing on the importance of a coordinated response between the government and the private sector to revive the tourism industry in a post-Covid world.