Nepal creates short-term jobs for tourism workers amid Covid

With a large number of workers in the tourism industry rendered unemployed amid the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the Nepal Tourism Board is implementing a programme to provide temporary employment to those who have lost their jobs.

Launched in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, it is offering short-term employment to lower-level workers in the tourism sector by engaging them in the sanitisation and maintenance of tourism facilities, which include trekking routes and bridges along the trails.

On Tuesday, the tourism board started seeking proposals from local non-governmental organisations, cooperatives and community-based organisations with a view to having their participation in the programme, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We initially started the program early this year in just five locations,” Dhananjay Regmi, chief executive officer of the tourism board, told Xinhua. “We’re implementing this programme nationwide from the new 2021-22 fiscal year.”

Nepal’s new fiscal year began on July 16.

According to Regmi, the programme shall be carried out in all the rural municipalities of hilly and mountainous districts under a resource-sharing mechanism as well as in some rural municipalities of the southern plain districts.

“We aim to provide short-term employment to 1,600 tourism workers under this program being implemented under the sustainable tourism for livelihood recovery project,” said Regmi. “We’re also going to implement a separate program related to tourism infrastructure development in which additional tourism workers will be employed.”

Nepal’s tourism is among the sectors being hit hard by the coronavirus, and hotels and restaurants had cut jobs by 40 per cent during the first wave of the epidemic in early 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Nepali central bank in June 2020.

Ever since the pandemic befell and a second wave hit in early April this year, the tourism industry in Nepal has been struggling to recover amid dwindling foreign arrivals. In 2019, the South Asian country received 1.17 million foreign tourists. The number fell to 230,085 in 2020 and diminished further to a meagre 58,040 by mid-June this year, according to the Department of Immigration.

As a result, accommodation and food services had witnessed a negative growth of 25.72 per cent in the 2019-20 fiscal year, the Central Bureau of Statistics figures show.

According to the Economic Census 2018 conducted by the bureau, tourism industry was providing 371,140 jobs in Nepal, making it the fourth largest job creator.