POKHARA, July 30: Homestay service for tourists was an economic game changer for a lot of people in Pokhara as in many other parts of the country. But the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that hit across the world badly affected this business that started booming only a few years ago.
Now with the lockdown lifted and other kinds of businesses gradually returning to normalcy, homestay service operators are in a dilemma whether or not to welcome tourists. While some operators have stood in favor of resuming the service, many others seem more concerned about the health risk of COVID-19 that any such move could exacerbate further.
“Since the government has now allowed resuming business activities we can also restart homestay service. But we do not know whether that will be a good choice. Coronavirus is still here, not gone yet,” said Tul Bahadur Gurung, president of Lumjung Bhujhug Community Homestay. “Waiting for some more time could probably be a wise option.”
Bishnu Maya Gurung, treasurer of Rainaskot community homestay in Lamjung, is also of the opinion that social distancing should be maintained for a few more weeks. “We would definitely like to welcome tourists. In fact, they are looking forward to it. However, the situation is still scary. We have to be aware of this situation,”she further said.
Bishnu Maya said tourists have been making frequent calls for homestay. However, she has asked them to wait for some time.
Meanwhile, Prakash Chandra Gurung, president of Kalawang Ghaderi Homestay in Kaski, said homestay operators have been discussing the matter and a common decision would be taken soon whether to resume the homestay service. “The pandemic has hit us badly. For many families, this was the only source of income. Also for tourists it was a matter of huge attraction. So, we are currently discussing whether to resume the service,” he said. “ Situation is still not favourable to resume it immediately. Health safety matters the most. But we will soon take a decision about it,”he said.
Homestay service allows tourists to experience the lifestyles of different indigenous communities.