The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a massive spike in unemployment in the tourism industry.
Tourism being a sensitive industry, it has suffered a lot in Nepal in the past too due to many factors such as national and international geopolitics, natural calamities and of course, the failure of the Government to give it proper recognition.
Most development in the tourism industry is a result of the continued hard work and initiatives of the private sector.
Despite all the hurdles, there has been consistent development in the industry, and in recent times the Government seems to have realised the importance of the industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the perspectives of many entrepreneurs like us. SMEs in tourism from third world countries have suffered a lot from such an unimaginable unforeseen circumstance without any emergency fund to sustain the businesses. The most discouraging factor was that the Government completely failed to understand the industry dynamics, tourism in particular, which has suffered and it will take time to recover. The Government was lacking in forthcoming with rescue measures for dying financially weak SMEs; instead the Government took the decision to ease restrictions and remind the business sector to pay the taxes. This was something that was out of anyone’s imagination. As a result many SMEs like ours were compelled to reconsider alternate business or diversify business to lower risks in the future.
Many company decided to reduced the staff and retain few paying off reduced salary, some smaller company completely lay off all staff knowing uncertain future ahead. Our company (Basanta Adventure) decided not to lay off any member of our staff, instead we decided to pay 50% of their original salaries and distributed fund to our key field staff (guides) working as freelance professionals in Nepal and Tibet. We would not have been able to do this without the generous and kind support from all our families and friends. We thank them all from the bottom of our hearts for helping in this difficult time.
However, the question that remains is — what next once our limited fund to pay the salaries of our staff runs out? As it is, tourism will be painfully slow getting back to normal.