Hotel booking cancellations trouble tourism sector

Kathmandu, February 8:

Cancellation of hotel bookings by foreign tourists, out of the Kathmandu valley, has been registered at over 95 per cent, due to a week-long Nepal bandh. In the valley, the cancellation rate stands at over 95 per cent, according to the hoteliers.

Before the announcement of a week-long Nepal bandh, the hotels across the country had about 40 per cent occupancy. However, after bandh announcement tourists started cancelling bookings in ‘major-hotels’, causing direct losses of over Rs 40 million per day to the hotel industry, according to Hotel Association Nepal (HAN). “Over 50 per cent booking has been cancelled after the bandh announcement,” HAN says.

Hotels have incurred losses in millions during this week-long Nepal bandh called by the Maoists across the country. “The hoteliers are back into the trouble despite increment in the business during January and February,” says HAN in a recent study.

Even the official of Soaltee Hotel, on condition of anonymity, disclosed that because of the cancellation of hotel bookings — by over 12 per cent due to bandh — the hotel has generated huge losses. “This has projected a negative image of the Nepali tourism industry in the international market,” the official showed concerns.

Due to a halt in the free flow of people in and outside the capital, the hotels and resorts outside the valley are ‘empty’, according to HAN. This is a huge loss for the tourism industry and the nation as a whole as tourism sector generates multiplier benefits in the country. “What is really ‘pathetic’ is that Thamel, a popular tourist hub, is seen deserted, due to so-called bandh that has snatched ‘bread and butter’ of thousands of people,” said Namgyal Lama, vice-chairman of Thamel Tourism Development Board (TTDBB) talking to The Himalayan Times.

He informed that about 99 per cent bookings of the hotels at Thamel area has already been cancelled due to bandh, which is really ‘terrible’ at a time when the national economy is near to a collapse. Lama said that everything is closed at Thamel area wherein over 2000 businesspersons are involved in different sorts of business like trekking, travel, hotel, restaurants, money changers, and banks.

“Thamel alone occupies 80 per cent tourists of the total tourists visiting Nepal,” he added. “There are 136 hotels and 142 restaurants registered in the Thamel area, Lama said adding that thousands of people are employed in different tourism related enterprises here, whose bread and butter is at stake now.

“They are hopeful that tourism sector will get a boost, but the situation is getting worse day by day,” he said. “Despite repeated requests to the government and concerned authorities to pay a serious heed to protect and boost tourism, nothing ‘concrete’ has been done.” He accused Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) for failing to boost and protect tourism industry and the tourism in Thamel. “In Thamel alone, billions of rupees has been invested,” according to him.