Written By: Maria Nowacka
In this time of uncertainty due to outbreak of Coronavirus would you even dare to think to book your next holiday? People are rather cancelling their vacation instead of actually planning them in fall or next year. However, according to the Forbes and tourism experts this time is the best to catch travelling deals, promotions, cheap flights, train and bus tickets.
Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of Embark, travel planning business, advices: “Any good buyer knows to buy when a market is weak—as we like to say, ‘Don’t waste this crisis.’”
The World Health Organization states that the virus may last up to 36 months, however the biggest outbreak should be behind us in few months. There is a big chance that months like September, October, November 2020 and next year 2021 will be already safe to travel. Destinations suggested by The Forbes are those offering outdoor vacations, in nature, away from crowded cities, with opportunities to continue with social distancing. Not anymore because of the preventions to stop spreading the virus, but to encourage personal and spiritual growth, physical fitness and comfort during your holiday.
Nepal, small country, between China and India, can be a perfect spot to find peace and get lost in the wildness of nature, between dignified giants of Himalaya. But the mountains are only one of the many attractions you can find in here.
Current situation of holiday market gives huge opportunity to not only save the money on your trips in Nepal, but also…Being curious what are the benefits of early bookings at this time? Let’s read through few points that may bring new light to your travelling options in the nearest future.
1. DEALS, PROMOTIONS AND DISCOUNTS. SAVE YOUR MONEY NOW!
FLIGHTS AND ACCOMODATION
Airline companies give nowadays great deals and discounts on international flights, between many, on the flights to Asian destinations. Qatar Airlines, Lufthansa have in their offer flights from Europe to Kathmandu even up to 15% cheaper for the dates in October, November 2020. The standard price for normal season, with early booking for flights from Europe to Nepal is minimum 800$ with long transit, while now for the same price you can get return ticket with short waiting time between flights. The promotions vary between 10% to 20 % for more exclusive airlines.
Domestic flights inside Nepal, are also discounted, around 20%, for flights in the highest peak season in Nepal during October, November months. So, for example Buddha airlines offers tickets for 99 $ one way from Kathmandu to Pokhara for October dates, while normal price, with early booking would be around 124$. Lower prices for domestic flights are not only due to the currents situation of Covid-19 but also because of more Nepalese travelling by air.
Similar situation can be found while booking the accommodation. These days hotels and homestays across Nepal are struggling to fill their rooms with guests. According to Kathmandu Post, Hotel Association Nepal is launching special tourism packages that offer lower prices for all types of accommodation, when book now, for periods in spring and fall 2020. While booking the trips in spring is still risky, as nobody knows what happens in coming weeks, making the bookings for autumn can be great deal, taking into account that you can cancel it for free.
TREKKING AND SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons in Nepal. However, these days tourism industry in Nepal is facing serious crisis. Travel agencies giveaway even up to 25% discount for tours and treks around Nepal for autumn 2020 and year 2021. First of all, let’s bring the light to the most popular treks in Himalayas: Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp. So, for example, Annapurna Circuit trek is now for $1575 compare to the normal price of $1750 per person. Similarly Everest Base Camp trek has been discounted 25% for bookings made now for dates in fall 2020 and year 2021.
With most popular trails being discounted, the agencies are also aiming to promote off beaten treks, such as Mardi Himal, Kanchenjunga Base Camp, Dhaulagiri Circuit or Mera peak. Those tours are also at hot prices, deducted even up to 25% for bookings in autumn 2020 and next year.
Trekking is one of the activities where you can challenge yourself and improve your physical fitness. But why not to combine trekking with yoga in Everest yoga trek or mountain biking in beautiful scenery of Nepalese nature? After being locked down in the house for many days, people seek to engage in outdoor activities where they can increase their stamina and physical wellbeing in peaceful and picturesque surroundings. As well as trekkings, these tours are in special offers, with 15 to 25% off original price.
2. INTIMATE TRAVELLING
Saving the money is always great deal, although it should go along with comfort and ease of traveling. Many people value intimacy and personal space during their vacation. Traveling experts argue that after the virus outbreak many people will be still afraid of going to long haul destinations, as it is e.g. Asia. For ones it is a fright, for others opportunity to enjoy holiday in less crowded environment, smaller tour groups, shorter queues and more individual approach towards travelers.
3. FLEXIBILITY IN CANCELLATIONS AND REBOOKING
Another reason to book your holiday now for upcoming months is possibility to cancel them for free. Due to current situation many travel and airline companies offer free cancellations, if not so, rescheduling them free of charge. According to Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Network, the largest network of travel agencies in North America, it is great time to snap up deals. “Recognizing that travelers are looking for more flexibility at this time, many travel providers including agencies, airlines and tour operators have revised policies making it easier to change your plans after you’ve booked a trip.’ Nevertheless, you should double check the terms and conditions of cancellation policy with individual company, as they vary. Kayak website has added extra filter to show which providers offer free cancellations, and those waiving their change or cancellation fees.
4. OPEN BOOKINGS /TIME FLEXIBILITY
Current trend to cancel the holiday due to outbreak of the virus gives an opportunity to be more flexible in picking the dates while planning the holiday. On top of that bookings made now, can still, in most cases, be cancelled for free until the end of 2020, or rescheduled for free for the year 2021. Travel agencies in Nepal still have many open bookings for autumn 2020, which is the best season to visit this country, as the weather is stable and dry, days are sunny, with great visibility. Besides good conditions for trekking and touring, fall is a festive season, with some major festivals taking place, such as Dashain, Tihar or Chhath. If you seek to explore Nepalese culture at its roots, this is perfect time. You can simply combine it with homestay trek and experience the celebrations as a local.
5. MORE AUTHENTICITY AND FRIENDLIER LOCALS
Travelling in the time when there is less tourists in Nepal means getting deeper into culture and have direct contact with local people. They are more authentic and open, less annoyed by crowds of tourists and more friendly. Autumn is the high season, but with current situation there will be less people visiting and trekking in Himalayas. It’s like travelling in high season but with benefits of low season.
6. SHORTER QUEUES AND MORE SERVICES AVAILABLE
Queues and waiting lines are always pain in the neck for tourists, especially if they are tightened on time. While booking your holiday now for autumn 2020 you can expect less people, not only on the treks and sightseeing tours but also in the permit offices, shops, restaurants. It makes life easier not only in terms of comfort -less stress and annoyance, but also timewise. If your time schedule is tight, you will appreciate spending less time organizing required documents, booking transportation or simply waiting for your meal in the restaurant.
7. ALTRUISTIC APPROACH
Taking care of yourself during your travel is the most important, so you should still follow the governments guidelines regarding travelling after the outbreak of Coronavirus disease, as well as search for information what to know and how to prepare yourself before coming to Nepal. Once you feel confident with it, you will add your precious brick to rebuild and support Nepalese travelling industry. This country, based mostly on tourism, with average salary of 100$ per person per month needs constant waves of travelers who can contribute to better economy. Between many travel agencies available here, it is also important to choose the right one.
With the advantages of early booking the holiday to Nepal, it is worth to mention how the country is dealing with the virus nowadays. Is it safe to travel to Nepal after the outbreak of Coronavirus? According to statistics, Nepal has recorded only few cases of the virus. It can be because of lack of medical equipment to diagnose the disease. There are also other reasons given, such as early implementation of preventions to stop spreading the virus, eg complete lock down in the whole country, closure of the borders, travelling restrictions etc. Another reason could be that Nepal has very small percentage of old people in the whole population, as small as only 4%. As the group of people in the highest risk is so small it may also explain why the number of deaths and recorded cases is so low. As the Nepalese government is taking the situation seriously, it gives hope that in few months the circumstances will back to normal.
Choosing Nepal for your next holiday destination, one can make enjoyable and comparatively inexpensive vacation plus contribute to Nepalese tourism industry which second time in the last years, after the Earthquake in 2015, has been hit by crisis.