POKHARA, Dec 25: It has been almost a year since the COVID-19 pandemic affected the tourism sector. Had there been no pandemic, there would have been a lot of tourists in Pokhara at this time of the year. Although the time is end of the season, the city would still see the flow of tourists. But this year, it has become hard to spot international tourists in Pokhara due to COVID-19.
Today is Christmas. Last year tourism entrepreneurs had prepared a lot for this day. But this year, they have only continued the tradition as a formality with no guests to serve. They said that the businesses are running without guests so they don’t want to hype Christmas this year.
“There are no guests so this year’s Christmas is not fun. We used to have huge preparation for this day,” Gupta Giri, resident manager at Sangri-La Village Resort, said, “There is no hype for Christmas this year with no guests to serve.” COVID-19 has ruined the celebration mood. He said despite being financially challenged, the resort, for the sake of tradition has made basic preparations for the occasion.
“There are no entertainment related programs this year,” he told Republica, “The attempt is to reflect the festival for the few guests who are staying at the resort.” The resort used to organize different programs to make the occasion special. Late night musical programs used to be its specialty but all programs were cancelled this year. “Very few guests are staying at the resort. Christmas programs were targeted at international tourists but there are none this year,” he said, “Domestic tourists used to participate in those programs adding more fun in previous years.” There are only domestic tourists in the city and the entrepreneurs say that they are not as interested in this festival as international tourists.
Despite the fact that December is considered the end of season, Pokhara hotels used to have crowds of tourists. Tourism entrepreneurs had to prepare for Christmas to make international tourists feel at home during their biggest festival.
Similarly, Roshan Khawas, general manager at Hotel Pokhara Grande said no Christmas programs were scheduled because there are no tourists this year. “We did not have special programs in previous years and there was really no need this year,” he said. “There are limited domestic tourists and they don’t really have interest in Christmas.”
Meanwhile, some popular restaurants in Pokhara have organized entertainment programs. Tourism entrepreneurs said that they have continued the tradition to entertain domestic tourists. A restaurant owner, Gopi Bhattarai said that restaurants around Lakeside have organized the programs.
Some domestic tourists have started traveling to domestic destinations including Pokhara which has let tourism entrepreneurs breathe a sigh of relief. However, traveling has become a risky and troublesome job for domestic tourists due to the increasing risk of COVID-19 spread.