Indrakala Rai, who has been working as a pioneer for the past 10 years, is now worried about how the global epidemic of corona infection, like the rest of the region, will make a living in the tourism sector.
Rai of Solukhambu Matedudhkoshi Village Municipality-5 has been working as a guide from Three Sisters Touring in Pokhara for the past 10 years. Rai says, “After a while, the lockdown will be open but there is no immediate possibility of tourists coming. The corona infection seen around the world seems to have a greater impact on the tourism sector. I am wondering what the alternative is now.”
He says that he has been making a living by working in the tourist season and now he is in trouble due to Kovid-19. Similarly, Bipin Raj Sapkota, who has been working as a guide for the past 13 years, says that the current crisis has trapped his profession.
“Our profession is directly linked to tourism. If tourists do not come, our livelihood will not be possible. The current situation will affect the tourism sector for a long time,” said Sapkota. He said he earns Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 a month and has only six months of the season.
According to Vijay KC, chairman of UNITRAV Gandaki, an organization of about 1,000 trekking workers in Pokhara alone. KC said that it would be difficult for the workers working in the tourism sector to survive if they do not find an alternative profession.
Secretary of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAN) Western Region, Jeevan Sapkota, says that the workers associated with the tourism sector should be given relief from the amount deposited in the Workers’ Welfare Fund.
“In the teams implemented by the state (Trekking Information Management System), an agreement has been reached between the Nepal Tourism Board and TAN and 10 percent has been allocated for the workers’ welfare fund, but the board has not shown the account till date. In the current difficult situation, it is appropriate to provide that amount to the tourist workers. ”
He said that there would be a shortage of skilled manpower in the tourism sector in the coming days if trained guide porters started looking for alternatives. He opined that after the opening of the lockdown, the tourist workers could be encouraged to identify new destinations and use some time to explore more possibilities in the tourism sector, which would also provide livelihood to the workers and make the best use of the funds.
Similarly, Pokhara Metropolitan City-6 has distributed relief to the hiking tourism workers who are facing problems due to the government’s lockdown in Pokhara to prevent corona infection.
UNITRP Chairman Vijay KC informed that relief has been distributed to the workers working as guides and porters in Pokhara from different districts of the country. He informed that half of the package relief has been provided to 85 tourism related workers from the metropolis who are in a very difficult situation due to the lockdown.