A view of Lakeside, Pokhara’s major tourist area. Many of the high-rise buildings here are hotels. Photo: Umesh Pun/Republica
POKHARA, Oct 16: The 68-room Temple Tree Resort has 95% booking for the month of October. The daily occupancy for the resort averages to 95%. With the onset of tourist season, the hotel does not have to bother about occupancy. It already has 70% pre-booking for November, and expects it to go up to 95% closer to the dates.
On the other hand, the occupancy rate of Hotel Barahi stands at 65%. The hotel used to have 90% occupancy in previous years but the hotel, which went down significantly this year. It has 55% pre-booking for November, which can go up to 65%.
On the contrary, Landmark Hotel beside Lakeside has a very weak status at the moment. The hotel with 101 rooms has an average of 20% occupancy. The pre-booking rate for November for November is 20%, which is quite distressing, according to the operator.
Many other hotels around Lakeside, major tourist hub of Pokhara, are facing similar problem. Hotel operators are complaining about the lack of guests, which has ‘made it hard to run the hotels’.
Hotel entrepreneurs say that though a handful of hotels have good occupancy rate, most are in serious want of a better guest flow, even during October and November that are considered the tourist months.
Meanwhile, number of guests is never an issue for Temple Tree. “We don’t lack guests, we used to have similar occupancy rate in the past as well,” said Krishna Acharya, manager at the hotel. “But the number of guests in our hotel does not reflect the whole picture of Pokhara. This is the season when every hotel should have enough guests. But the situation shows otherwise. Small-scale hotels are facing problem.”
According to Acharya, some big hotels had announced ‘special package’ for this season. He presumed that most of them must have designed the package because of lack of foreign guests at their hotels. “This is the time when we would have been able to book the rooms at full rate but it is not the scenario here,” Acharya said, “Very few hotels have guests but most of the hotels are lacking guests.”
Likewise, Raj Kumar KC, general manager of Hotel Barahi said that this season has not been able to be as enthusiastic as it used to be in the previous year. “There has not been exciting bookings this season,” KC said, “It is not that the guests have not arrived but we have not been able to feel as if they have arrived.”
“We were waiting for good times of the season,” he said, “But this season has not been able to bring excitement amongst the entrepreneurs.” He said the number of hotels has increased and the sharing of tourists might be the reason for fewer guests. “The guests have spread out at different big hotels built around Pokhara,” he told Republica, “Medium-sized hotels are struggling.”
“Though domestic tourists came to the district during festivals, there are not enough foreign tourists and the hotels are not operating with full occupancy.” He added that most of the hotels used to have full occupancy rate during this time in previous years.
Om Prakash Pandey, operator of Landmark Hotel said: “If situation persists like this, the tourism sector will suffer.”
Dil Gautam, general secretary of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), said tourists are hesitating to visit Nepal due to the issue of connectivity. “The international connectivity is weak. And on top of that, domestic connectivity has not been strengthened,”
Gautam told Republica, “This is the season of tourism. But if traveling is troublesome, tourists can abandon their tour.
President of Pashchimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara (PHAP), Bikal Tulachan, said that most hotels have not seen enough guests of late. “Even though it is the season, very few foreign tourists have come and the ones who have come have been distributed amongst many hotels.” According to him, the hotels of Pokhara are supposed to have 80% occupancy rate at this time, but they have only 40%.