Lumbini’s tourism hit hard amid novel coronavirus scareThe city saw a number of tourism events cancelled over the week amid Covid-19 concerns, causing worry among tourism entrepreneurs.
Lumbini Peace Marathon, which was scheduled to take place on Monday, was cancelled on Sunday amid widespread fear of the novel coronavirus disease that has spread across the world. Over 100 participants had signed up for this year’s marathon that has been taking place for the past four years. The event was cancelled following the local unit’s directive to postpone any event that involves a large gathering of people.
“Monday is an important day for Buddhists, for it commemorates the day the Buddha returned to Kapilvastu after his enlightenment,” said Bikram Pandekaji, who organised the marathon four years ago. “We have been organising the marathon every year to mark the historical event, but this year, we are sad to report that we had to postpone it.”
Likewise, several other events of adventure sports have also been cancelled. Among them is the 77km cycle race, for which over 70 cyclists had signed up. At a time when adventure tourism is drawing an unprecedented number of tourists to the historic town, the global spread of the virus is worrying, said Sikhar Pandey, director of the cycle race.
“The three-day race has been immensely successful over the years, but, sadly, this year we had to postpone it,” Pandey said. “We will reorganise it once the situation becomes favourable.”
Along with the marathon and cycle race, at least a dozen events have been cancelled in the town over the past week. This has meant that the city would lose thousands of tourists, said Lilamani Poudel, general secretary of Lumbini Hotel Association.
“This is an ideal season for adventure tourism, so there were over a dozen programmes in the pipeline guaranteeing to draw thousands of tourists,” Poudel said. “But the fear of the global virus has spelt disaster to the city’s tourism business.”