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[A piece of heaven, Ilam’s ‘Sri Antu’:]

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Rabindra Dhungel, 30 august 2020. The major tourist destination of the country is Sri Antu. It is sunny here to watch the sunrise and sunset. Sri Antu is an attractive area for tourists to watch the sunrise, walk around the nearby Chiabari pond and taste the ‘local’ dishes. Sri Antu is also an unsuitable area to evade the heat of internal and external tourists, but at this time, Antu’s identity has turned out to be just the opposite. There are no tourists here, no homestay operators.

 

Antu is completely closed after the closure due to Corona. Nowadays, there is no one here except the person who takes care of the pond from the sick Rugalo. The tourism industry has been hit hardest by the ever-busy vacuum. “It was always difficult to stop the tourists. I had to go to work in the morning and in the evening because of the sweat. ” Dhan Bahadur Ale, chairman of Sri Antu Danda Community Homestay, says, “No one comes for tourism after the ban. It is completely dry. ” He said that it would be difficult to bring it back to the old level now as the tourist area has been hit due to the epidemic.

Due to the constant pressure of tourists, this year the profession of a businessman has come to a standstill. Some people are now suffering from the problem of how to repay the loan. Secretary of the Association of Entrepreneurs Rudra Ghimire says that there will be financial crisis for tourism entrepreneurs if the local government does not provide concessions on bank loans. “Friends from Jhapa have opened the cottage knowing that it is better to invest here.” He says, “Neither Sahu has repaid the loan. Neither the rent of the cottage. The same is true of homestays. ” Not only Antu but also other tourist areas of the district are no different. Of course, the main season for tourists is from April to May. There is more income in the same season. But this time, the tourism business has been pushed in this season.
The situation of Maipokhari in Ilam Sandakpur village municipality, which receives three to 400 tourists daily, is no different from that of Antu. Entrepreneurs who used to stay there daily to welcome tourists have been forced to close their businesses. According to Nimadorje Sherpa, a tourism entrepreneur, economic transactions have come to a standstill due to non-arrival of tourists in the main season. “It simply came to our notice then. Tourists had to come. We have closed our business for fear of an epidemic. ” He said. Along with the Maipokhari tourists listed in the Ramsar area, many tourists also gather in terms of religious significance. In this region which is under the pressure of internal and external tourists, this time the businessmen have to bear the loss due to lack of interest.
Similarly, Sandakpur and Dhappokhari, which have an average of 60 to 70 tourists daily to see the mountains and evade the heat, have become deserted due to lack of tourists. Sandakpur, which has been selected as the main destination by the state government, is not in a position to attract tourists. Grishma Subba, a transport entrepreneur, says that hotels, homestays and transport entrepreneurs, which are open all year round waiting for tourists, are facing huge financial problems. “No one goes to these tourist areas. Even old tourists say they will come after the opening. ” He says, “I don’t get many phone calls. Otherwise, I would have come every day to go to this season. ”
According to him, the living standard of the transport entrepreneurs working in this sector has reached a critical stage if the government does not provide concessions or discounts. He said, “We should also get a discount on the route / permit of the vehicle and the bank should also give concessions.” Hoteliers have suffered huge losses after the shutdown in the main season. According to hoteliers, the district has incurred a loss of Rs 40,000 per day in 60 big hotels, Rs 20,000 per day in medium hotels and Rs 6,000 per day in 190 small hotels.
Similarly, 600 workers are unemployed from big hotels, 1,200 from medium hotels and 570 from small hotels. The target was to attract 250,000 tourists this year out of the 163,000 tourists who visited the district last year. According to tourism entrepreneur Devi Poudyal, now the work of tourism promotion has to start from ‘zero level’.
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