CHITWAN, June 25:Chitwan, one of the most popular tourist-hubs of Nepal, has yet to see any turnaround in the number of visitors that suddenly dwindled after the earthquake last year.
Lack of improvement in the sector has severely affected many tourism enterprises in the district.
The hospitality sector was booming in the district before the earthquake. Many new hotels had come into operation and constructions of many more were underway. “Hotel industry had been enjoying its best days during 2012 to 2014. Many new hotels came into operation in Sauraha, Patihani, Jagatpur and Megauli areas in the period. However, it all came to a grinding halt after the quake,” said Suman Ghimire, senior vice-chairman of Regional Hotel Association, Sauraha.
According to him, 13 new big hotels came into operation since 2012. However, only one hotel was added after the quake.
“With no sign of the tourism sector recovering, entrepreneurs have been reluctant to invest in new hotels. Such investments should not have stopped because the tourism sector would eventually recover,” added Ghimire.
The tourism sector in the district showed slight improvement during April and May. However, the number of tourists has been continually declining since then.
Chitwan National Park (CNP) is one of the most important tourism destinations in the country. It receives the highest number of visitors after Kathmandu and Pokhara. Tourists visit the park mostly to observe endangered one-horned rhinos and Bengal tigers. The data provided by the CNP shows that the park used to receive up to 25,000 visitors every month before the earthquake. In the past 11 months, however, the number of monthly visitors in the park has crossed 10,000 only twice.
“The earthquake and the Indian blockade had deep adverse impact on the tourism sector. Especially, the number of Chinese tourists that had seen a surge in the years before the earthquake has not improved. "Still, we are hopeful that the number of overall tourists would increase from October,” said Ghimire.