Kathmandu, March 9
After a dismal period that threatened to push the tourism sector to the brink of collapse, hotel entrepreneurs can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as the sector may be on the way to recovery.
According to the Hotel Association Nepal, the umbrella body of the tourist standard hotels in Nepal, hotels have around 50 per cent occupancy.
Even as the rate is a far cry from the 90 per cent occupancy witnessed in earlier years, the occupancy is the highest since the country was devastated by the earthquakes of April and May.
The border blockade by the agitating Madhes-based political parties had further affected the flow of tourists.
“The whole tourism industry including the hotels had suffered badly last year due to earthquakes and then the border blockade,” said BK Shrestha, president of HAN.
Shrestha, who operates Hotel Radisson in the Capital, said hoteliers might finally have a reason to cheer with the gradual rise in the arrival of tourists.
March to May and mid-August to November are considered the peak tourist seasons in the country. Looking at the rise in number of tourist arrivals, hotelier Shrestha is optimistic of better days ahead for the sector this season.
The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit last year. Firstly, the earthquakes of April and May prompted travellers to cancel their bookings for autumn.
Worse, the four-and-a-half month long border blockade threw cold water on the plans of tourism entrepreneurs to lure more tourists from India and China to compensate for the loss of western tourists in autumn.
“The fact that countries like the United States have recently lifted negative travel advisory issued during fuel crisis in Nepal could also be attributed for the rise in tourist inflow,” said Prabesh Aryal, executive director of HAN.
The government had also urged India and China, where the number of outbound travellers are growing, to send more tourists to Nepal to revive the country’s tourism industry.
Shreejana Rana, tourism convener at Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the country should focus on its neighbours and other countries with which it has direct flight connectivity, like Turkey, for sustainability of the tourism sector.
“We witnessed very good flow of Chinese tourists even when the country was going through a turbulent time,” Rana said.
A version of this article appears in print on March 10, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.