Nepal’s Chitwan national park visitors come down by half because of Covid-19

With the increase in corona infections, the number of tourists has come down by half. Tourist arrivals have declined compared to previous years.

Indigenous and foreign tourists visit Chitwan National Park for jungle safaris. According to the park office, 92,209 tourists have gone on jungle safaris in the last fiscal year.

In the previous fiscal year 2019/20, this number has been one lakh 82 thousand 435. The number of tourists who enjoy the tourist activities by buying tickets in the community forest inside and outside the park is kept by the park. In addition to this, the statistics of those who come to visit the tourist area without participating in the tourism activities are not kept.

According to the office, 89,441 domestic tourists had visited the park in the previous fiscal year. Similarly, 14,239 tourists from SAARC countries and 78,755 tourists from other countries visited the park in the same year, but last year, 89,601 Nepali tourists visited the park, while 1,364 tourists from SAARC countries and 1,244 tourists from other countries visited the park.

Chief Conservation Officer of the park Annath Baral said that the number of tourist arrivals has decreased due to the corona infection. He informed that the number of tourists has come down as they were affected last year even though tourists came till the main season last year.

Last year, the number of foreign tourists was very low. Due to the lockdown, the entrance to the park was banned from April to July last year, the entrance to the park has been closed since April 29 due to the ban. Baral informed that the entrance will be opened in a few days. According to him, community forest activities will be reopened even if the park is closed during the rainy season.

Income has also declined as the number of tourists in the park has decreased. The park, which earned Rs 187.38 million from tourist fees last year, has collected Rs 255.37 million in the last fiscal year.

The park also generates income from other areas. In the previous fiscal year, 11.87 million revenue was collected from these areas, while the income of these areas has increased in the last fiscal year. It is stated that income of Rs. 188.24 million has been earned from those areas. The government remits up to 50 percent of the park’s income to the intermediate sector. As income declines, so does its impact on the intermediate sector.

In order to reduce the conflict between the park and the people, up to 50 percent of the revenue collected here is being spent in the intermediate sector.

Tourists come to the park mainly on elephants to see the rare wildlife including one horned rhinoceros, tiger, crocodile, grazing. Chairman of the Regional Hotel Association Chitwan Sauraha, Deepak Bhattarai, said that the tourism sector has been further affected by the Corona, which has been affected by earthquakes, blockades and problems on the Narayangarh-Muglin road.

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