ILAM, Nov 1: The pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been dear to the tourism sector more than any other sector as most tourist activities are yet to resume after the country went into the nationwide lockdown on March 24 earlier this year.
The hotel business and transportation sector in Ilam district in eastern Nepal have reported huge losses owing to the grinding halt in tourism activities for more than seven months.
Ilam, a hill station in the far-eastern Nepal, which is one of the favorite destinations, used to witness a huge number of tourists who would visit the tea estates, enjoy sunrise and pay a tour to religious sites. The hotels used to be packed with tourists. Means of public transport would be busy carrying the visitors. The entrepreneurs were excited enough in the wake of the much-awaited Visit Nepal 2020 and made a luxuriant investment. Unfortunately, the story turned bizarrely different. Hotels these days wear a deserted look and vehicles have been parked for months now.
According to the Hotel Association, Ilam, Rs 30 million of additional investment was made targeting the VNY 2020. The hospitality sector in the district incurs the loss of Rs 226.2 million on an average in a month. Many of the hotels may not revive.
As many as 2,370 had earlier been employed at more than 400 hotels and restaurants in the district. Most of them have lost their jobs.
When it comes to the transportation sector, Rs 15 million was lost during this period of eight months. “We have to pay for the regular expenses including bank instalments, insurance premiums and taxes but the income is almost zero,” said Grishma Subba, chairman of Purbeli Jeep and Taxi Entrepreneurs Private Limited.
Though the government allowed the public vehicles to resume their services by adhering to the public health protocols, people rarely use means of public transport, according to Subba.
Here are some photos taken at various tourist spots in the district that are almost empty due to COVID-19 fears.