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Tourism hub Thamel wears a deserted look with COVID fear

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Kathmandu: Kathmandu Valley’s main tourism hub ‘Thamel’ has worn a deserted look of late due to coronavirus-escalated fear.

The tourism hotspot has almost come to a standstill with the emergence of the second wave of new variants 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 fervor of the captivating Thamel has come to a halt since the third week of April this year again in the advent 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 an outbreak of the virus in both the first and second waves of the contagion.

The area wore deserted looks when the tourists landing in Thamel returned to their countries via chartered flights.
Though the Government of Nepal declared 2020 as the Visit Nepal Year, it was also postponed due to the rapid outbreak of coronavirus transmission.

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 witnessed a big inflow of tourists.

As many as 6,000 people have been involved in their business in the Thamel area. Vice-Chair of Thamel Tourism Development Council, Bhabiswor Sharma said the special zone has not witnessed any appealing looks as there is no influx of foreign and domestic tourists due to COVID-19 transmission.

“The State should come up with serious action to open the tourism hub with strict compliance of health safety protocols and vaccinations”, he said.

Sharma also voiced his complaint that the police highhandedness was mostly evident while making efforts to gradually bring back coronavirus-hit tourism entrepreneurs to their business at Thamel.

Though there is no environment for foreign tourists to come to the area, it has to be opened targeting domestic visitors as well, he suggested.

The total business turnover of the Thamel comprises 80 percent of foreign tourists and 20 percent of domestic visitors.

In order to check the possible displacement of tourism entrepreneurs from the area, the Thamel Development Council last year had arranged a 50 percent concession in house rent taking into confidence the house owners.

Thamel had been making considerable contributions to the national economy.

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