People like Mahesh
It is far from easy to survive in the highly competitive tourism market in Nepal. Under normal circumstances, but all the more after the earthquake last spring. There are hundreds of trekking and expedition agencies in Kathmandu that compete to get any clients. Most of them are small companies, and the owners often live from hand to mouth. Small entrepreneurs like my friend Mahesh Kumar Budha suffer most from the economic consequences of the earthquake. The government estimates that the tourism market has slumped by 50 percent, local operators assume that it is up to 70 percent.
No income since January
In 2003, Mahesh was my trekking guide when I did a one-week-trip to the Annapurna region to report for DW radio about the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). In 2011, after having worked for about 20 years for other trekking companies, he founded his own agency “Joy Treks”. His bureau is located in Thamel, the popular tourist quarter in Kathmandu. “I have had no income since January“, the 40-year-old writes to me. „Actually one group wanted to visit Nepal in May and another in June, but the devastating quake didn’t let them come.” Before the earthquake Mahesh also had enough inquiries for this fall. “But most of them are silent now, and I think it is because they are scared to travel to Nepal.”
Suicides of business men
Mahesh has to feed his family. His four children are attending school, the eldest twins are in the tenth class preparing their final year on high school before going to college. That costs money. “The living costs in Kathmandu have also increased in recent years”, says Mahesh. “I am very worried about that all.”
He reports about some Nepalese people who took advantage of the earthquake by providing fake information to their foreign friends and clients. “But my moral, my heart doesn’t allow me to do it like them. I never had my own house in Kathmandu and I cannot post pictures of a collapsed building pointing ‘This is my house’!”
The bad economic consequences of the earthquake have also led to human tragedies. “Two of the tourism businessmen in Kathmandu (they were holding travel companies) committed suicide, and I am sure this number will increase in future days”, writes Mahesh. “Bitter, bitter!”
People like Mahesh Kumar Budha do need our support. The best way to do so is to travel to the country again. Don’t forget Nepal!
Date18. September 2015 | 7:00