KATHMANDU, June 24: Some businesses operating in the Thamel area have started getting relief on rents in response to their demand of 50 percent waiver on rents.
Different businesses operating in the tourist hubs including Thamel had demanded that the house owners waive 50 percent on rents from the beginning of the lockdown and till at least a year. Responding to the request, some landlords and tenants of Thamel area have come to an agreement to implement it.
“About 200 businesses have been assured 50 percent waiver on their rents as of yesterday,” said Bhabishwar Sharma, vice president at Thamel Tourism Development Council (TTDC), “We have heard that some landlords in Pokhara have decided to help the businesses through the waiver."
The house owners have agreed to aid the businesses as the monetary transactions have almost been suspended following the Covid-19 outbreak in Nepal. He said that almost 50 percent of house owners have agreed to implement the waiver.
About 200 shops in Thamel have withdrawn from their business because of the loss caused by Covid-19. There are 2,000 house owners and 10,000 businesses around Thamel only. According to Sharma, the rent of houses at places around Thamel ranges from Rs 15,000 to Rs 4.5 million and instead of leaving the places vacant they have decided to waive off the rent. “A business pays an average of Rs 80,000 as rent per month,” he told Republica Online.
Thamel along with other tourist hubs have sustained a massive blow as the tourism sector of the country slumped with the rise of Covid-19. With no tourists to serve, tourism entrepreneurs centered in the Thamel area had been economically suffering for the last three months of lockdown. Most of the businesses in Thamel which is the first stop for most tourists when they first land in Nepal, are targeted at tourists. Tourist hubs like Thamel have not seen any business since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown in Nepal. So, fearing economic instability, they have asked for the rescue.
A ‘Covid-19 Tourism Business Disaster Coordination Committee’ issued a collective statement on Sunday requesting house owners of Thamel and other tourist hubs to waive off 50 percent on rent from the beginning of the lockdown to at least a year.
Despite what the previously signed contract says, the committee decided to request the house owners not to raise the rent. The committee has also requested Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for 50 percent exemption on electricity bills. “As the businesses remain closed due to Covid-19 and also because of no flow of tourists into the country, we have barely used the services so we will ask the authority to charge only according to the units of power used,” said Sharma who also leads the committee.
Businesses have been paying a minimum of Rs 1,500 to a maximum of Rs 300,000 for internet services but as they remain shut, the committee has requested Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nepal (ISPAN) to exempt the fees to the extent possible.
Different organizations including TTDC, Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA), Tourist Bus Association of Nepal (TBAN), Foreign Exchangers’ Association of Nepal (FEAN) and Export Council of Nepal, among others have collectively requested the waiver.