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September 9, 2020

Covid-19 Pandemic: Changing crisis into an opportunity

  • Buddhiman Tamang, Tourist Guide

We know that the Covid-19 epidemic and nationwide lockdown imposed to curb this deadly contagion has adversely affected the tourism sector mostly. This problem has not only affected Nepal, but also the world’s tourism sector. And I am one of the mostly and badly affected people as a tourist guide. Therefore, I would like to share my experience with how to handle oneself during such a crisis.

Lockdown started due to the Coronavirus outbreak as soon as I just returned to Kathmandu after completing one of the trips. All my plans were hampered. I was very excited at the commencement of the year, and I had made up various plans.

Plenty of bookings were there this year because of Nepal Visit Year 2020. I was personally very busy throughout the year. So, excited I was. Very few people get the opportunity to become busy throughout the year. Nepal’s tourism is seasonal. For me the whole year schedule and plan were ready.

I felt that I had fallen from the frying pan to the fireplace as lockdown began. In the beginning, I could not think about what to do and what not to do? It was really very difficult in the first two weeks of the lockdown phase which was full of worry, anxiety, and restlessness.

I think I am lucky as I don’t stay amidst the crowded settlement of Kathmandu. I stay around 12 km far away from the town. I like to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the town as I love to stroll around the hills, meadows and enjoy the natural beauty. And I feel that this nature of mine and the situation has helped me to come out of the current crisis and tension.

After two weeks’ time full of tension and uncertainty, I felt that this Coronavirus epidemic is not within my control and capacity to understand its nature of the outbreak. How long will it remain contagious is not certain? Meanwhile, in social media, I was attracted to a quotation, “If you can’t go out, go inside” which forced me to think about myself. Then I started looking for videos related to yoga and meditations. I started yoga and meditation daily. During my extra time in the day time, I started going to the fields to work there. This activity helped to come out of the current crisis, tension, and uncertainty.

I used this time as an opportunity to learn some new skills. I learned photography and cooking skills during this time for which I could not spare much time before.

After some time I thought of what to do after Coronavirus is totally eliminated and the daily routine begins for humans. As I was thinking about what to do I came to know about a “Virtual tour” being prepared by one of the organizations. I was invited to participate in it. So, I learned the knowledge of how to run a virtual tour even if one cannot go out physically.

Covid-19 pandemic has not so affected me financially. It is not difficult for me to make both ends meet. Yet, it did affect me initially both emotionally and mentally. But, I discovered the method of coming out of the problem and now my condition is good enough.

Now, I am worried about my colleagues. When I worked as a tourist guide there were workers of vehicles, porters and kitchen staff.

Their salaries were very low though they worked a lot. Many of them communicated with me and narrated about their problems. We have made plans to support such persons in coordination with companies and foreign friends.

Worse are the conditions of other staff who worked with the tourist guides. They have not received any support. And many people are freelancers. Companies can’t support such workers.

The government should have supported those who needed financial support. Tourism-related organizations should also conduct psychological and emotional management training for those who do not need such supports.

The people who have no problem with food and shelter have suffered from mental and emotional problems. Such problems should be managed through various methods. Training can be useful to them.

Personally speaking, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought an opportunity for me rather than a problem only. I have learned the skills to cope up with such a crisis. Nothing is certain in this world. So, I am ready to tackle an even greater crisis than the current one.

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