EDITORIAL: Improve hotel safety

All hotels, lodges, resorts and homestays must follow safety measures to see to it that their guests are happy and safe until they check out

it is mandatory for all hotels, lodges, motels, resorts and homestays to follow safety measures and provide the needed health and medication services to their guests round the clock, as per the Tourism Act-1979. Making comprises on these basic needs is a punishable offence. Besides providing quality food and services to their clients, the hotels and resorts are required to ensure that they are safe there until they check out. If the guests find that a particular hotel or a resort lacks safety standard, they will stop visiting there the next time, ultimately tarnishing their image. Applying Section 15 of the Tourism Act, the Department of Tourism (DoT), following a secretary-level meeting on February 9, has decided to suspend the operation of Everest Panorama Resort at Daman, a popular tourist destination in Thaha Municipality, Makwanpur, for three months. The decision to halt its operation was taken after eight Indian tourists died of suffocation after using an LPG heater to keep the resort room warm on January 21. A group of 15 Indians were travelling to Pokhara from Kerala and had stopped at the resort on their way back to Kathmandu. Of them, two couples and four children were found unconscious in the resort room. All of them were declared dead after being airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment.

Although the manager of the resort has claimed that his resort had met the required procedures, the DoT on January 23 concluded that its negligence on the safety side had caused the deaths of the visiting Indians. A panel formed to investigate the incident found the resort was not following the recommended safety measures and was also providing sub-standard services to its guests. The panel also found that it had not fulfilled all the criteria set by the DoT to be categorised as a ‘resort’. As per the rules, a resort must be equipped with air-conditioners, smoke detectors and proper ventilation in all rooms and a team of well-trained staff to deal with any eventuality. The DoT has said it must fulfill these criteria if it wishes to resume operation.

The tragic deaths of the Indian tourists have sent a wrong message to foreigners at a time when the country has just launched the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign to attract more than 2 million tourists. It was obvious that the people died there due to utter negligence of the resort. Had there been a smoke detector inside the room, it would have raised an alarm bell and helped rescue them from suffocation. Suspending their operation only for three months is not enough. The resort must be made to pay compensation to the bereaved families. At the same time, we also need to set up a team of inspectors to see to it that a hotel or resort is following the prescribed safety standard set by the law. Daman is one of the hill stations from where one can have panoramic views of the Himalayas, including Mt Everest, when the weather is clear. It will, however, take a long time to control the damage already done by the resort itself, whose survival solely depends on the visiting tourists, who visit there to enjoy the natural beauty that it offers. So, it is the duty of the resort to upgrade its services as per the law to regain the lost business.

Get the massage

It’s a Nepali tradition to give an oil massage to both the new mother and the newborn for a month, with some lasting upto three months. Even today, it is not uncommon to see new mothers taking an oil massage in the courtyard or inner streets where the locals are used to socialising. Mustard oil is used for the massage, and this is said to help in the heavy growth of the bones and muscles of the child while rejuvenating and relaxing the body of the mother. However, some doctors are opposed to this practice, as they are to the use of homemade gajal — something like the mascara — although they themselves were raised in this fashion.

The tradition of giving an oil massage by a woman has continued so far, but it is getting extremely expensive to hire a professional to do the job. Not anyone can give a massage as it requires skills. A month-long massage package will cost anywhere between Rs 15,000 and 35,000, depending upon the frequency, which is a huge sum of money for even a middle class family. This has put low-income families in a dilemma, but this culture of giving oil massage to the newborn and mothers has turned out to be a lucrative profession in this fast-changing city.