Shreeantu is one of the prime tourism destinations in the country. It is famous for the spectacular views of sunrise and sunset that it offers the visitors, besides its natural charm. Tourists flock here all the year.
The views of the undulating hill with verdant tea gardens from Shreeantu is breath-taking. People also visit this place for tasting the local dishes. There is also a pond and a walk around it is also very pleasant. It is also a hill station and a place for internal and foreign visitors to escape the summer heat and spend holiday with friends and family.
But these days Shreeantu is almost deserted. There are no tourists and no home stay service providers. Antu is totally shut at present after the lockdown was imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. There are only the people looking after the home stay and the pond.
The local tourism has been badly hit by the slump in tourism business due to the COVID-19. ” We used to be very busy with lots of visitors coming here. No tourist has visited after the lockdown. Our entire business has hit the ground,” said Dhan Bahadur Ale, the president of the community home stay.
According to him, the tourism is the hardest hit and they are very worried whether it will ever come back to its previous boom.
Secretary of Antu Traders Association, RudraGhimire said the tourism entrepreneurs in the area will face economic crisis if the local government did not provide them with rescue and relief package such as discount in the interest on their bank loans and tax rebate.
The state of Sandakpur rural municipality-based Maipokhari, which would welcome 300-400 visitors on a daily basis before the lockdown is not unlike of Shree Antu. Hoteliers here are forced to shut down their business as the area has been completely calm since the crisis, said one tourism entrepreneur NimaDorje Sherpa. Economic activities have been nil as the tourism business even in peak season has been hit to its core by the crisis.
”Tourists arrival is required to run the business. When no visitors are coming, it keeps no meaning to open the business. Additionally, we also fear that the virus may come close to us at any time,” he said.
The pond of both touristic and religious importance is featured in the Ramsar list.
Before the crisis around 60-70 people would reach Sandakpur and Dhaappokhari to enjoy the views of mountains and escape hotter days are like of ghost zones these days. The State 1 government has identified Sandukpur as one of the major touristic destinations in the state.
Transport entrepreneur GrishmaSubba said hotel, home stay and transport business suffered huge economic impact of the crisis. Employees associated with these sectors are dealing with a grave challenge to make ends meet.
Similarly, transport entrepreneurs need State’s support to resist the consequences of crisis, according to him.
Hoteliers have been facing huge losses due to lockdown even in main season. Hoteliers said that 60 big hotels have been facing losses of Rs 40,000 every day while middle-scale 200 hotels and small-scale 190 hotels facing losses of Rs 20,000 and Rs 6,000 respectively in the district.
Similarly, there is a data that more than 2,300 workers working in the hotels have become jobless. A target was set to bring in 250,000 tourists this year as 163,000 tourists had visited the district last year.
A tourism entrepreneur Devi Poudyal said that activities of tourism promotion have to be started from zero level.
Most of tourism entrepreneurs have been knocking the door of banks and local government after they started facing economic problem.
They said that it would help to uplift their living standard if the bank provides interest in concessional rate and discount in tax by local government.
Mayor of Suryodaya municipality, Rana Bahadur Rai, said that the municipality might give discount in tax to as the tourism sector could not be developed putting the entrepreneurs in problem.
He said, “We can coordinate with tourism entrepreneurs if they face difficulties to resume their business. But no others except a single hotel have put forth its problem before the municipality so far.”
The federal government has brought ‘tourism package’ for the relief to tourism entrepreneurs.
Source: National News Agency Nepal