Thamel not benefitting as expected from decision to keep it open round the clock

Published On: June 21, 2024 04:05 PM NPT By: Enika Rai

KATHMANDU, June 21: According to businessmen, besides night entertainment businesses, other businesses in the Thamel area, open 24 hours from April 13, have not flourished. According to the local businessmen, even after two months of the implementation of the decision to allow these businesses to operate round the clock  with the aim of enhancing economic activities and promoting tourism in the Thamel area, these businesses have not grown as expected.

Mukunda Pokhrel, a hotel manager, who has been observing the restaurant businesses in Thamel from up close, said, despite the fact that all the businesses in the Thamel area are open round the clock, businesses apart from Dohori clubs, dance bars, massage centers, discos, and nightclubs are not running as expected.

“Even if night entertainment clubs, restaurants and hotels have seen increased business, other shops are in the same situation as before,” he said.  “Foreigners come on a seasonal basis. Nepalis’ lifestyle is not such that they will avail these services in the night because of a busy schedule in the day.”

According to him, some marts, a few grocery stores near the night business and other small hotels have recently opened.

On the other hand, there are a lot of negative effects of the decision to keep Thamel open round the clock. “At night, beggars trouble a lot of foreign tourists,” he said, “Sometimes three or more beggars are seen chasing a single tourist; some of them even attack and loot them.”

According to Pokhrel, the police arrive at the scene as soon as they are informed but still the hawkers are seen troubling the tourists. “This trend has increased of late.”

Chandraprabhat Rai, another businessman in Thamel, said that this area which is open 24 hours a day is not getting the expected benefits, adding that services are available to all the foreign and domestic tourists. He observes that only the night entertainment clubs which were earlier allowed to run only till 2 AM have benefited, but other kinds of businesses are not flourishing.  

In fact, it has become easier for the young generation to have fun. Apart from that, there is no significant change, nor is there an environment for window shopping," Rai said, adding, “There is no system of working on a shift basis in Nepal. It does not mean that there will not be some amount of buying and selling when a  shop is open, but since the businessmen are not in a position to hire workers on a shift basis, it does not seem to be effective.

Rai argued that the price should be fixed for all shops to open effectively. "To open a shop like ours all night long, the price of all the shops’ goods should be fixed," he said. "Shops like ours have not adopted such a system, so its effectiveness has not been seen yet."

He added, “Before the Nepali New Year, my shop used to open in the morning and close in the evening, I am still doing the same.”

He is of the opinion that the system of never closing the Thamel area has increased the movement of young people, noise and littering rather than increasing commercial activities. “When I arrive at my shop in the morning, I find paper plates used to serve momos scattered all over the road, sometimes there is a pile of garbage right in front of my shop,” he said.

Currently, there are around 10,500 businessmen in the Thamel area and around 60,000 people have found employment here. President of Thamel Tourism Development Council Bhavishwar Sharma admitted that the Thamel area has not been really fully operational round the clock so far. He said that now some shops are opening later into the night than before.

"There has not been much change in the business of the Thamel area," he said, "But it is not that there has been no change today than yesterday."

He said that an environment for the shops in Thamel to be open till 2 AM will be created within a year. “Shops that were open till 9 o'clock yesterday have started to open till 11, 12 o'clock at night,” he said, “This will get extended gradually. Within the next one year, we are going to create an environment where shops/businesses will be open till 2 o'clock in the morning.”

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