All hotels in Bardiya down shutters

Surendra Kafle

Thakurdwara (Bardiya), April 19:

‘Tourists have virtually stopped coming here. It has become difficult for us to survive, leave alone do business’ — this is the common complain heard from hoteliers located around Royal Bardiya National Park (RBNP) at Thakurdwara. The hotel and restaurant business is under severe pressure after visitors coming to RBNP, the largest national park in the Terai region,

declined severely. There was not a single visitor on the New Year day to RBNP that is home to the famous royal Bengal tiger, Krishnasar and wild elephant. Khada Bahadur Khadka, who is running Bardiya Jungle Cottage for the last 10 years, said he was deep in debt after visitors stopped coming. He added that all his property would be enough only to pay interests on the bank loan.

“I have already lost Rs 3.5m and have sold all my property to meet staff salary and to repay loans”, Khadka said. “I had 23 employees in the beginning. After four years of continuous loss, I reduced the number to 10 persons. This year, I dismissed all of them”. Similar is the situation of over a dozen other hotel and restaurant owners. There is nothing available in the restaurants, not even soft drinks. Entrepreneurs question, “Why should we keep them when there is no customer?”

Most of owners have made up their minds to sell their business if they could. But who would buy at a time of such financial crisis, they wondered. Khadka recalled getting an offer of Rs 8 million at one time. “Now, it is difficult to get even half of that and I cannot just throw it away”, he said. Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, proprietor of Paradise Hotel rued that frequent bandhs and blockades had ruined their means of survival. “We have gone bankrupt. There is no taker for our hotels. Sometimes, I feel like staging protest against the organisers of bandhs and blockades”. Almost all hotels and restaurants are closed at present. Except for RBNP staff and security persons, there are no visitors to Thakurdwara.