Subba Tamang was working in a hotel in Nagarkot when the earthquake hit. The hotel was not damaged but his house collapsed, killing his grandfather: his wife and two children have been living in a transitional home, made of corrugated sheets ever since.
Pratibha Tuladhar of www.gulf-times.com spoke to Tamang recently on the hardships his family has been through past the quake.
Nagarkot, some 32 kms east of Kathmandu, used to be a popular tourist destination for families on weekend breaks, tourists on short hikes and cycling trips, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
Tourist arrivals are down almost 50% and Nagarkot is no exception. Bookings have fallen and with it livelihoods like Tamang’s dependent on the tourism industry are on the front line of bearing the brunt of the fallout.
Similarly, Pokhara another popular tourism destination, which was spared by the quake, is also suffering from low tourist numbers. Despite March-May being the spring climbing season, Lakeside is pretty empty in Late April. The numerous hotels and restaurants of the popular strip are facing tough competition to attract the handful of tourists who trickle in.
Santosh Pokharel who works in a restaurant as a waiter in Pokhara lamented that since the business has been so slow this year, he is contemplating heading to a Gulf country to work as a labourer.
Business owners look dejected at the loss in revenue despite their huge investments in infrastructure and modern décor. However, with the onset of summer, it is hoped that more and more people will return to Nepal. Especially, with the launch of ‘Ghumphir Barsa’, the ‘Travel year campaign’ by the government to promote domestic tourism, the summer brings renewed hope to tourism entrepreneurs.
39 year old Bishwa Gurung, a taxi-driver from Pokhara, said, “Things might turn out okay this year. I have been talking to the tourists I ferry from time to time. Everybody seems happy to be here. Now, if they only go back and tell their friends about it, that might help.”