POKHARA, Oct 18: Lakeside, the hub for businesses related to tourism in Pokhara, is yet to open, even while the main markets in the Mahendrapul, Chipledhunga, New Road, Sabhagriha Chowk and Prithvi Chowk areas are already open.
Businesses in the Lakeside area heavily rely on the domestic and international tourists but as there is no flow of tourists whatsoever, Lakeside still remains closed while businesses in other areas where the locals go for shopping have resumed their services.
Lakeside is a hub for hotels, restaurants, travel essentials and trekking equipment shops. It is the main season for foreigners to visit Nepal and Lakeside during this time in previous years used to shine with crowds of tourists. This year it is completely different.
Local retail shops and other businesses have not been able to open and operate like they did in the past. The trade of garment and trekking tools and equipment has come to a halt.
Ram Chandra Giri, president of Trekking Equipment Shop Association (TESA) said there are 75 entrepreneurs engaged in selling trekking equipment worth five million rupees per annum. “Our main source of income is tourists but there is no possibility of tourists visiting the area anytime soon,” he said. “Our only customers are the trekkers who used to buy equipment from us. Of them, 20 percent were domestic tourists.”
Entrepreneurs face the risk of a huge financial loss as they have not been able to resume their business activities, nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started in February. “Shops have been opened not for business but to expose the equipment to fresh air,” he told Republica. “We are trying to minimize the risk of ruining the goods.”
Shankar Bhattarai, Chairman of THE Association of Embroidery and Garment (AEGA) said the businesses are on the verge of total collapse. All tourists who visited Pokhara were customers of AEGA as tourists had recently started showing interest in Nepal-made products. But with COVID-19, everything came to a stop. “Lakeside is a silent town now due to lack of tourists,” he said.