West Thamel Tourism Council: Eliminating hunger in the West Thamel area

10th Jun, 2020 | Tourism Mail Crew

West Thamel Tourism Council (WTTC) was formed on 13th March 2020, with the objective of developing west Thamel region including Kaldhara, Paknajol, Chhetrapati, Satghumti, and Sorakhuttee by solving the problems of drinking water, electricity, security and others. During this lockdown period, WTTC is socially active and has been involved in various activities despite being a new organization in the tourism industry. To know more about the current activities of the organization and its vision we had following conversation with Mr. Ashik Amatya, Secretary of West Thamel Tourism Council (WTTC).

Q:  Would you like to share a few words on the impact of Covid 19 in tourism industry?

A: This is an extremely challenging time for us all. The majority of the businesses face the impact of the on-going pandemic one way or the other. However, pandemics always have an immediate impact on the industries like airlines, hotels, restaurants and travel companies due to the international travel restrictions and government measures. Resulting the tourism sector to be the worst hit industry. 

As many businesses are bound to pick up the pace post the Covid phase, tourism is the one that’s expected to take longer for its complete recovery.Tourism and Nepal are almost synonymous, and Nepal is also not untouched with this pandemic. Most of us tourism stakeholders wake up every day with a hope to hear some positive news and possible ways to revive tourism in its natural form. But, we are still not in a condition to say how and when we can go to normalcy and go to the mainstream of tourism.

Q: Since West Thamel Tourism Council (WTTC) is a newly formed organization, what were the expectations of the council and how things are going on right now? 

A: WTTC focuses on issues & developments relevant to tourism in the West Thamel area, while creating an excellent environment for visitors facilitating security, best accommodations, travel/tour activities & leisure. WTTC strongly promotes responsible & sustainable tourism. The response &feedback that we received from the tourism stakeholders of the area, Metropolitan Office Ward no 16, Metropolitan Police Circle Lainchaur&Sorakhutte, Community Police Office (ward no. 16 & 26), Metropolitan Traffic Police (Ward 16), Community Development Clubs, Business owners& locals were unbelievable. 

All of them have joined hands with us to improvise and introduce West Thamel as a comfortable new major tourist hub and we are actively working on as well as implementing our plans for the betterment of the area.  The ongoing lockdown has definitely affected few of our projects (which will be resumed very soon), but at the same time it has given us the opportunity to openheartedly fulfill our corporate social responsibilities towards the area. 

Q: How West Thamel Tourism Council (WTTC) is helping the needy ones during this pandemic? What are the activities done by WTTC during this lockdown? 

A: The fact that the daily wageworkers & their families have been massively affected by the ongoing lockdown doesn’t need any explanation. WTTC has been actively working to make sure that they have food on their plates. First phase, starting from the second week of the lockdown, we distributed relief materials to over 600 families in association with Metropolitan Office Ward no. 16, Juneli Nepal, Absolute Gurkha and Smart Cell. 

Moreover, WTTC continuously worked to eliminate hunger in the West Thamel area and in the second phase, we distributed individual meal packs to people in partnership with Lockdown Lunches Group, TaatoKhanaSewa& supported by manyindividual donors. Over the period of 8 weeks, we have distributed around 22,000 meal packs. 

We are currently in phase 3, where distribution of individual meal packs has been paused until further notice to avoid gathering of people & to take extra preventive measures. WTTC is handing out further relief materials to the most needy ones and for that proper research & screening is strictly being followed while creating the list of families that are to receive relief packages from WTTC. Similarly, WTTC has been running an on-going area clean up and sanitization campaign. 

Q: Will West Thamel Tourism Council  (WTTC) be able to sustain itself in the market for the long term if this situation goes on like this for a long period?

A: Definitely. WTTC won’t just sustain but grow along with the businesses that are in the area without a doubt. Lets change the perspective & look at the opportunity the situation presents. WTTC isn’t here to sell products but rather offer a service; service and expertise that’s needed now more than ever. It is a fact that people will travel again, sooner rather than later. Travelling has always been the essence of human behavior. Whether it is for leisure, work, exploration, or even self-discovery, humans have this undying quest for curiosity and travelling in its own way tends to bring them closer to their quest. Simply meaning that the tourism market will be up & running again, it’s just a matter of time.

The pandemic provides us a unique opportunity to reposition, re-build &even re-strengthen ourselves as a council and more so as a guardian to the businesses of this area. WTTC will be maintaining the current infrastructure in the area as well as developing new ones where required. Optimistically thinking, this may be the perfect time for all the tourism stakeholders to work on our shortcomings and re-strengthen ourselves for the promising market that lies ahead. As a group of optimists, WTTC believes that every crisis hands us an opportunity and this just maybe ours. West Thamel area offers a unique environment & product. WTTC will work along with our members to identify the opportunities &realize our own value, rather than selling ourselves short.

Q: West Thamel region holds great tourism potential. So, what are the plans of the council to promote the area among tourists?

A: WTTC is always working towards creating an excellent environment for visitors facilitating security, best accommodations, travel/tour activities & leisure in the West Thamel area. WTTC aims to make West Thamel region a properly managed, safe & secured area for the tourists as well as the locals. 

Installation of CCTV cameras & monitoring system, proper management of wires and streetlights, security guards throughout the nights, garbage maintenance and placement of garbage bins, tourist help desk and free maps are some of the areas that we are working on. West Thamel area offers a dynamic variety of products, from worldclass accommodation to budget hotels and hostels, tour services, restaurants, marts, leisure activities and so much more. With a little joint effort, the area wouldn’t be difficult for the tourists to fall in love with. 
Promoting domestic tourism has always been one of our targets, as the number of clients we need to survive is not very demanding. With support from the government authorities, corporate sector& the locals, we can implement rules to support domestic tourism and that could be the key and great foundation for sustainable tourism. 

Q: What are the things that should be done to revive the tourism sector of Nepal now?

A: We firmly believe that during the recovery period, support from the government, Nepal Tourism Board, and all affiliated stakeholders are highly required for the industry to stand on its feet. We are all in this together and since tourism is an eco-system, we all have to play our part to come out of this stronger and better. The future is promising but saving the present should be our key priority for now. Given our status of being a mystique land and an adventure haven, maybe we could use the recovery time to rebuild and retool ourselves as a unique commodity, adding a few more hemispheres to our already mystique blend of nature, art, and culture. Eco and sustainable tourism, agro-tourism, and wellness are some of the dimensions that can be looked into. 

Moreover, if policies from the concerned authorities come into place in  atimely manner, tourism may restart in phases with domestic travel as soon asthe situation improves. That will provide some relief to the industries outside the valley.The government needs to work on impact assessment of the coronavirus pandemic immediately and also come up with the relief packages for the tourism and hospitality industry.