KATHMANDU, MARCH 21
I had to go to Delhi on a personal business, but decided to cancel it as I could not convince myself to pay Rs 2,400 twice for the PCR tests, and the trip cancellation was a logical conclusion.
So, money matters. So does convenience.
Where does that leave tourism? I am sure many like me would not waste time and money to travel unless I can make many times over my investment.
So, every penny counts, especially during these uncertain times.
Quarantine is not a problem for me any longer. We have lived in isolation for a year now and have got accustomed to this lifestyle. I am glad to hear that the royal mountaineers from Bahrain will stay in quarantine for seven days.
Over three dozen travel trade organisations had fumed over mandatory quarantine for tourists.
But we can defend their position by saying that only the affluent travellers can afford to quarantine. Many British were angry at their government for imposing a quarantine for failing to beat the deadline for entering the country recently.
With the pandemic throwing the world out of gear, it will be a while before international tourism picks up. For Nepal, the primary tourist market countries like the UK, Germany, France and Italy are still under lockdown, banning or controlling overseas travel. So, quarantine or not, we are unlikely to see a few hundred thousand tourists soon, let alone millions.
For all-purpose and intent, tourism is likely to be revived only after spring 2022 at the earliest. Unfortunately, our government cannot manufacture tourists to distribute to the trade organisations and their members. So, we can perhaps forget about tourism for a while now.
Fortunately, tourism contribution to the GDP hovers around 3 per cent. The country was planning to increase its tourism contribution to 7 or more per cent. But the pandemic aborted it. In hindsight, it is a blessing in disguise. Our regional neighbour Thailand has lost out on a big chunk of 40 million tourists. We must be thankful that we haven't put many of our eggs in the tourism basket. We should take this as a wake-up call, a warning to diversify our economic activities.
Further, we should now try to maintain tourism contribution to GDP at 3 or manageable per cent, but from a fewer number of tourists. It would be in our interest to put up a revenue target that meets a 3 per cent contribution to GDP from highyield tourists.
A fewer number of high-yield tourists will free up the workforce and capital for lucrative economic activities, such as agriculture, manufacturing and migrant labour. We might promote the most lucrative industry - land plotting.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.