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March 16, 2020

Kathmandu’s deserted Thamel

Bed Gurung

Kathmandu: The main tourist hub area of Thamel in Kathmandu these days looks deserted and lonely as the number of tourists keeps plummeting due to Coronavirus phobia created owing to the global outbreak of this lethal epidemic.

Three tourist spots of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur which are enlisted as UNESCO recognized world heritage continue to remain devoid of tourists these days as compared to last year.

Thamel area

Thamel area

Thamel which usually remains crowded with tourists looks deserted and forlorn now as the adverse effects of Coronavirus start impacting the tourism sector in Nepal.

Tourists arriving in Nepal mostly visit the Thamel area once during their stay in Nepal. However, only a countable number of tourists can be seen strolling around Thamel presently which shows the worsening situation due to Coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism entrepreneurs including  Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATA),  Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA) among others are urging the government to provide them relief and respite from the current stress by reducing taxes for them as the tourism business is on a collapsing situation.

The tourism industry in Nepal fell prey to Coronavirus pandemic after Nepal suspended arrival visas for foreign countries infected with COVID-19 such as China, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Iran among others.

Complete closure of peak permits for foreign climbers in the wake of Coronavirus adverse impacts has also discouraged the arrival of tourists these days. According to the tourism entrepreneurs, perhaps this the highest adverse and insidious effect on Nepal’s tourism industry by any external elements in the history of the country.

The dismal scenery of the tourism sector now, therefore, is hardly 5% tourists’ presence, and 95% decrease in tourist number in a country which is considered to be one of the coveted tourist destinations in the tourist season.

One of the tourism entrepreneurs Raj Kumar Khadka says that this is the time for the crowd of tourists by now, but Coronavirus has discouraged the tourist arrival.

Khadka said that most of the bookings by tourists are being canceled, while some of the bookings are being transferred to next season.

Another tourism entrepreneur of Thamel Nav Raj Pandey says that the tourism business has almost become negligible in the last two weeks. When it should have skyrocketed by now as compared with last year’s business.

Local vendor of local wooden made violin Buddhiman Gandharva says, “In the peak season when tourists used to be crowded in the Thamel area, I used to sell my wooden violin by singing local folk songs for them. But now it is not possible. These days are very hopeless and melancholic for me. The market has gone down.”

Another trekking shop owner Mahesh Shah says that Coronavirus has had a very bad effect upon the tourism business in Thamel.

Patan Durbar Area

Patan Durbar Area represents one of the ancient monuments of the Malla kingdoms in Patan. The city is well decorated in cultural heritages of ancient times. So, it is one of the prime destinations for tourists.

Tourism entrepreneurs of the Patan area claim that the tourists’ number has decreased by 30 % by now due to the bad effect of Coronavirus. The only hope is maintained by visitors to this tourist hub who are domestic visitors. The number of domestic guests arriving at Patan Durbar has risen to 2550 as compared to 2000 last time.

Basantpur Durbar Area

Basantpur Durbar area is also one of the significant tourist destinations in Kathmandu. Since the Basantpur Durbar area is ancient Malla era heritage, visitors including tourists and domestic visitors throng to this area. This area is one of the enlisted world heritage recognized by UNESCO.

There are various ancient historical temples and monuments to observe in this area such as Kumari house, Basantapur palace, Kasthamandap, Kal Bharav, Taleju temple, and Jagannath temple. The number of tourists decreased as Coronavirus spread globally at a time when the tourist season has just begun.

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