Tourism in Nepal and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The strategies of the city of Patan to bridge time until international tourism restarts

The entrance of the Durbar Square of Patan | Photo: Daniel Gauthier, istock

Located in the Himalayas, the mountainous nation of Nepal, with a population of about 30 million, is one of the poorest countries in Asia. The country has little economic power and relies on foreign currency, which is mainly generated through tourism. The unique mountain scenery in the Himalayas, the historic cities in the Kathmandu Valley and the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini attract millions of tourists every year. For the year 2020, which was declared the year of tourism by the Nepalese government, Nepal expected more than two million tourists - until the Corona pandemic broke out.

Within just a few weeks, the previously thriving tourism industry collapsed and over 230,000 jobs in the tourism sector were at risk. In a country where only ten percent of employees are members of social security schemes, this has serious impact on the economy and the population.

Patan (Lalitpur Metropolitan City), located in the Kathmandu Valley, whose central Durbar Square is a Unesco World Heritage Site, had to consider new strategies for the hard-hit tourism industry. While currently the country's borders are still closed and there is no international tourism in Nepal, the city has taken steps to boost tourism in Patan in the long term and at least partially offset the loss of income in the short term.

Among other things, Patan is trying to promote domestic tourism. The historical center is of interest to locals, who can discover the city's history, which is often unknown even to them, on guided tours.

The city is also bridging the time until international tourists can visit Nepal again with preparatory measures. For example, old, historic buildings are being renovated and local cuisine and home stays are being marketed. A night market will also be held in the center of Patan in the future. By offering a wider range of products, Patan is to become even more attractive to local and international tourists in the future.

The city is working closely with key tourism stakeholders to develop a strategy for this current transition phase.

However, the measures taken in Patan presuppose that the national borders will soon be reopened and that international tourism, especially from India and China, can resume.

Further information

Responding to COVID -19 Challenges- How Nepal’s Tourism Sector, in collaboration with the local cities, is finding its way out
Deepak Adhikary, Principal Consultant and CEO, Frontline Development Solutions, USA

Good Practice: Strategies and Actions to get Tourist back to Patan (Nepal)
Prafulla Pradhan, Advisor, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Nepal

Event Recording (Presentations on Nepal start min. 63): Tourism Sector addressing the Pandemic - Working with Local Municipalities (Only for those registered on the Connective Cities Platform)


Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Nepal info(at)

Connective Cities

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