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New coronavirus variant disappoints Nepal tourism industry

File: A group of foreign tourists visiting Nepal

Kathmandu, December 25

Rajendra Sapkota, a tourism entrepreneur of Nepal, is worried again these days. The country’s tourism industry seriously hit by the Covid-19 pandemic since March this year was slowly reviving, but it has received a halt again.

“Without substantial income, we have lost millions of rupees this year,” he questions, “How long will it continue now?”

Tourism businesspersons including Sapkota are concerned over international travel restrictions triggered by the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom recently. Alarmed by the threats in the UK, the government of Nepal has also imposed a restriction on the entry of tourists from and via the country.

“Tourists seeking adventures would not be stopped by the pandemic, but now, no one can help them since their way has been blocked,” Sapkota says.

His concern is valid as the UK had been one of the biggest source countries for foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the past five months.

With the emergence of the new variant of the virus, some tourists expected to visit Nepal in the next few weeks have begun cancelling their tickets and hotel bookings.

Therefore, the businesses are unable to think about what they should do next, laments Binayak Shah, the first vice-president of Hotel Association Nepal.

He reveals many hotels have begun laying off staff with various schemes in the past few months. “Here is a situation that we cannot employ the human resources who would otherwise make us earn thousands of rupees every month. Therefore, we have announced schemes letting them explore other options.”

Meanwhile, domestic airline companies have reported a decrease in their income owing to the lack of foreign passengers.

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