Demand for safe quarantine and proper arrangements for bringing the Nepalese people in foreign countries back to Nepal has been a very hot topic and trending news in social media nowadays. Acknowledging the requests, the Nepal Government made a decision to arrange quarantine facilities in different hotels on 19th Jestha, 2077. Following the decision, many hotels submitted their names to be turned into quarantine centers. The list of more than 40 hotels was published on 23rd Jestha, 2077. One of the hotels is Hotel Lapha located in Lainchour, Kathmandu run by Anil Silwal and Krishna Kumari Pandey. Here’s a short interview with the owners regarding the effect of lockdown on the tourism industry and their decision to turn the hotel into a quarantine facility.
How has tourism and especially, the hotel industry been affected by the ongoing pandemic and lockdown?
The tourism industry might be the most severely impacted industry and there’s a chance that the business will not return to normal for a very long time as people are too afraid to make international trips at the moment. We as tourist hotels survive on Indian and other foreign tourists, while this time of the year was supposed to be the busiest time for business. A lot of hotels had even invested a lot for renovation to support “Visit Nepal 2020”. With everything flipped upside down, the loss and impact are massive.
How did you decide to turn your hotel into a quarantine center?
One thing to keep in mind is that business always needs to change based on the present scenario. We had rooms that were empty and the government needed rooms to be turned into quarantine centers. Our first thought was why not. The risk is there but we will get support from the government and concerned authorities for proper safety measures so we reached the conclusion to submit our name as well. Also, this was the only way for us to survive amid this lockdown.
What problems did you face in the beginning?
In the beginning, we got lots of opposition from the community of our area. We had to approach different authorities to get permission to run a quarantine center. We had to teach safety procedures to the staff members as well. Despite the problems, we are happy to be of help to the government’s endeavor in such desperate times.
Who is kept in the hotel and who pays for them?
People returning from foreign countries are kept in the hotel for quarantine. We often need to check the schedule for the flights and then arrange to bring them to the hotel. All safety precautions are followed during this procedure. Regarding the payment, the ones in quarantine themselves are responsible to cover the expenses. The charge starts from Rs 2000 per person based on the room they choose to stay.
What are the basic safety procedures followed?
We have 3 staff members around the clock who are provided with PPE. The guests are not allowed to leave their individual rooms. They call the reception if any assistance is required. 4 meals a day are provided to each guest with hot water. The guests have the option of doing PCR with their own expense which they usually prefer. Once the test is negative, they are allowed to check out from the hotel. The room they stayed in is then properly cleaned and disinfected.
How do you think the tourism industry can revive?
Based on the current situation, the probability of international tourists is almost zero. We need to focus more on internal tourism. Hotels like us need to come up with different strategies to keep the business running. We hope this situation goes back to normal soon.