Kathmandu Valley's main tourism hub 'Thamel' has a deserted look due to the fear of the coronavirus among the people.
The tourism hotspot has almost come to a standstill with the emergence of the second wave of the new variant of the coronavirus in Nepal. Thamel had remained shut for eight months last year and saw a gradual rise in the number of visitors turning up to the popular destination with the decline in the number of COVID cases in Kathmandu later.
Tourism fervour of the captivating Thamel has come to a halt since the third week of April this year again due to the sudden rise of the second wave of the virus.
Foreign tourists and visitors could not turn up to Nepal as the domestic and international flights remained shut to contain the outbreak of the virus during both the first and second waves of the contagion.
The area has worn a deserted look after tourists staying in Thamel returned to their countries via chartered flights.
The government had declared 2020 as the Visit Nepal Year but it was later cancelled due to the rapid outbreak of coronavirus transmission in Nepal.
There used to be big crowds of people at the tourism hotspot for refreshment and recreation until the enforcement of lockdown last year. Fridays and Saturdays always witnessed a big inflow of tourists.
As many as 6,000 people have businesses in the Thamel area. Vice-Chair of Thamel Tourism Development Council, Bhabiswor Sharma, said the tourism hub has become desolate as there is hardly any foreign or domestic tourist due to the COVID-19.
"The government should implement programmes that will give a boost to tourism activities in the area albeit with strict compliance of health safety protocols and vaccinations," he said.
Sharma also lamented the highhandedness that police demonstrate when entrepreneurs are making efforts to gradually open their businesses in Thamel.
Though it may not be an appropriate time now for foreign tourists to come to the area, it has to be opened targeting domestic visitors, he suggested.
The total business turnover of Thamel comprises 80 per cent of revenue earned from foreign tourists and 20 per cent from domestic visitors.
In order to check the possible displacement of tourism entrepreneurs from the area, the Thamel Tourism Development Council last year had managed to provide 50 per cent discount on house rent by talking to the house owners.
Thamel, over the years, has been making a considerable contribution to the national economy.