COVID-19 affects hotels in Sauraha
Hotels in Sauraha have started sending their staffs on leave after the inflow of visitors declined due to coronavirus.
Regional Hotel Association Sauraha President Deepak Bhattarai said, “There was almost 90 percent hotel booking around this period last year. Although hotel occupancy is now 20 percent, this rate would drastically go down after a few days. There are only some European, Indian and Nepali tourists in Sauraha at present. All the advance bookings have already been cancelled.”
According to Bhattarai, around half the number of hotels in Sauraha have sent 50 percent of their staffs on leave. The hotels here normally employ employees ranging from 10 to 70. Some more hotels are preparing to send half their staffs on leave. Staffs staying on leave are paid half of their salary.
Association’s immediate past president Suman Ghimire said, “More than 8 billion has been invested in the hotel industry in Sauraha. The hotel operators here are facing a hard time to pay loans and interests. They are worried about being blacklisted by banks as they are facing loss due to COVID-19. Businesspersons should be given an additional deadline to pay loans and interests rather than exempting loan interests.”
“Earlier, Sauraha suffered trade after being hit by many factors like the Maoist insurgency, 2015 earthquake and border blockade. This time the infection may affect trade here the most,” said tourism entrepreneurs.
Even domestic tourists fear to visit Sauraha due to the infection. The government has also requested people not to organise gatherings and programmes in view of the deadly virus. As a result of this fear, Sauraha which mostly receives Chinese tourists has been affected hardest. It has affected big hotels, restaurants, shops and jungle safari, etc. in Sauraha with a negative impact on revenue.