80 percent tourists cancel reservations

80 percent of “Tourist” have cancelled their reservations after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake rattled the country on April 25, causing widespread devastation. The future of Nepal’s high-end tourism is also in jeopardy after an avalanche in the Mt Everest region put the climbing season in uncertainty.

An estimated 45,000 tourists have left the country since the quake, leaving the tourism industry in the lurch. They have stopped new bookings while cancellation of advance bookings is on the rise. Most of the five-star properties have not accepted new bookings. The government team is assessing most of the hotels building to certify whether it is fit to live in. “After the certification, hotels will be resuming their normal business.

The popular Soaltee Hotel plans to open on Tuesday while other five-star hotels like Hyatt Regency began operating after April 29. Hotel Yak & Yeti has not closed its operation as it did not sustain major damage. “We encourage travelers to come back to Nepal soon after the country starts a sign of recovery from the recent disaster” . One of the pillars of Nepali economy, tourism earnings directly benefit the rural economy. Nepal received nearly 800,000 tourists bringing in Rs 46 billion in revenue last year.
The country has two peak tourist seasons—March-May in spring and September-November in autumn—accounting 70 percent of total tourists arrivals. Typically, the March-May usually sends occupancy levels beyond 80 percent for most hotels, but this year bookings were scanty after March 4 incident when a Turkish Airlines plane crash-landed on the runway at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Hundreds of passengers, both foreign and international, were stranded in Kathmandu for four days. Subsequently, an indefinite general strike by the UCPN (Maoist)-led opposition added more woes on the tourism industry.

An initial analysis of the Asian Development Bank on economic impact of the Nepal earthquake, showed that travel and tourism is likely to be badly hit with most key hotels shutting down for the weeks to come to examine the structural integrity of their buildings. It said that although this sector’s direct and indirect contribution was only about 9 percent of gross domestic product in 2014, it is one of the fastest-growing sectors and has significant backward and forward linkages in terms of employment and production.

The earthquake reduced a majority of the Unesco World Heritage Sites into rubble. Damage has been caused to numerous historic buildings and archaeological locations, including six Unesco World Heritage Site—Basantapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath Temple, Changunarayan Temple, Boudhhanath inside the Kathmandu Valley.