Pokhara, October 3
The huge slump in tourist arrivals this year has affected thousands of people, who are directly and indirectly involved in the tourism sector. Porters, cooks and travel guides have been worst hit.
“The recent decline in tourist arrivals has worried everyone in the industry. It looks like I have to look for another job now after working as a tourist guide for so many years,” said Sheshkanta Sharma, a trekking guide in Pokhara.
He attributed a number of factors, including the terrible blizzard in the Annapurna region last year followed by the April 25 earthquake as well as ongoing bandh and strikes, to decline in tourist arrivals. “Earlier, I would earn up to Rs 1.5 lakh in a single tourist season during Autumn and nearly the same amount in Spring, but this year I have been spending whatever I’d earned earlier,” he lamented.
Another veteran tourist guide Khagaraj Neupane bemoaned the hardship he had been facing to earn his livelihood these days. “Tourism industry was struggling to bounce back following the earthquake and now the protracted bandh has hit the tourism sector hard,” Neupane said, adding that most of the visitors were reluctant to visit Nepal given the ongoing political unrest in the country.
According to Union of Trekking, Travels, Rafting and Airlines Workers-Nepal western regional Chairperson Bijaya KC, there are over 200 tourists guides, including 80 female guides, who earn their livelihood by serving the tourists visiting the Annapurna area and other nearby tourist destinations.
According to Lal Prasad Gurung, director at Annapurna Conservation Area Project headquarters, Pokhara, a total of 15,000 tourists visited Annapurna area in the month of September last year while this year only 4,000 people visited the area during the same period.
A version of this article appears in print on October 04, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.