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Looking Forward For Autumn Tourist Season

Looking Forward for Autumn Tourist Season

Monsoon Season in Nepal:  Now it is monsoon season in Nepal and all over South Asia.  The rain from West Bengal has swept the continent south of the Himalayan range. Normally the wet season last until middle of September.  Month of Jul and August receives highest level of rain.  As usual incessant rain brings flood in Terai (plain) and landslide in the mountain. Short treks are all right but long treks are not suitable except in places like Dolpo, Mustang and Humla regions. City tours and jungle safaris can be organized.  Moonson season has a different charm.  Everything is green and clean. In monsoon there are fewer visitors.  However the remote and high lands like DolpoMustang and Humla are pretty much dry as these places are in rain shadow.

Unlike previous years so far less havoc are reported.  In Nepal we do get torrential rain but it is not every day; occasionally there are breaks for sunshine. Normally it is continuous heavy rain for three to four hours and dry spells in between. Continuous torrential rain is exception. This kind of rain brings total chaos and havoc.  Recently the flooded pictures of Bhaktapur area and Boudhanath that had gone  viral in social media are actually due to haphazard construction of roads and building without proper planning for drainage.  In recent years there has been increased population pressure in most cities in Nepal. That has created booming construction of structures all over.

Scam in Helicopter Rescue:

The latest news is about the government new regulation to restrict helicopter flight to many of the popular treks destinations like Everest and Annapurna. Government directive regarding helicopter landing is yet to come.  Actually the reason behind the restriction is because of the big financial scam perpetuated by some travel and helicopter companies to skim high profit from Insurance companies in the garb of mountain rescues. In Annapurna Sanctuary local people are denying the helicopter to land because the noise has hampered the environment and eco system; that is what they claim.  Regarding the scam the government investigating committee found that some travel and trekking-companies in collusion with some helicopter companies and hospitals have used tourists in the pretext of rescue to fork out hefty commission from foreign insurance companies by producing faked bills with exorbitant cost. Now the Ministry of tourism has given responsibility for helicopter rescue to Police. Most people in the trade feel giving responsibility to Police is not a good idea to manage the problems; they have not seen larger picture and problem in actual rescue.  I think it would create more problems than solution. Though they are an organized force but police personnel and fire fighters in Nepal do not have training and expertise in mountain climbing, mountain rescue and high altitude sickness.

Autumn 2018 Tourist Season:

Autumn 2018 Tourists Season:   After a long spell of sluggish growth in tourist arrival this autumn season promised to be a good year for tourism entrepreneurs. Hotel and flight booking are up. Transport operators are optimistic.   After the earthquake in 2015 we have suddenly seen increase in building of luxury standards hotels in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country.  Five star luxury hotels have sprung up in major tourist destination like Kathmandu, Chitwan and Lumbini. There are several new hotel properties now available in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Actually, post 2015 earthquake for the first time people have chosen a stable government after the general election last year. The stable political condition has created a big hope for stability. Big industrialist in Nepal has for the first time started investing heavily in hotel property. The second international airport in Bhairawa (Lumbini) is expected to be completed next year and Nepal Airlines has brought two wide body Air Bus aircraft to service their international flights. They are also planning to add several smaller aircrafts to service their domestic sector.  The trend in domestic flight booking has been increasing steadily.  All these indicators are positive for healthy growth of incoming tourist.  The government is planning to increased tourist arrival to 2 million by the end of 2020.


Tiger Sightseeing a big  draw for Bardia National Park

The number of tourists visiting Bardia National Park, in Far West Nepal, has increased primarily due to high chance of spotting the rare Royal Bengal Tiger. The lure of seeing the endangered creature in its natural habitat is proving irresistible as more than 15,000 tourists visited the park in the first nine months.  The Bardia National Park was established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park. It covers an area of 968 sq km and it is largest national park in the Terai (plain) of Nepal, adjoining the eastern bank of Karnali River. The park is home to 407 species of birds, 53 mammals including rhinoceros, wild elephant, Bengal tiger, swamp deer and Gangetic dolphin. The last census was held in 2013. The total number of tiger recorded was 198; out of that 50 in Bardia National Park and 120 in Chitwan national Park. Number of tigers has increased in Bardia in the last two years due to the suitable natural habitat, availability of prey and improved security situation according to the park authorities. In recent days it is easier to get tiger sighting in the park.  (Condensed from news published in Kathmandu Post dated April 14, 2018)

Thai Lion Air Starts flight to Nepal 

Low cost carrier (LCC) Thai Lion Air made its maiden flight Bangkok to Kathmandu sector on Wednesday (Aug 1, 2018). It has become the second carrier from the land of white elephant to connect Nepal. Thai Airways has been operating seven weekly flight, the remaining three flights are allotted to Thai Lion under the provision of the agreement. Thai Lion is one of LCC in Lion Group founded in 2013 with 12 domestic flights, 2 cross regional flights and more than 20 international flights. The airline has 32 aircrafts in its fleet. It will operate from Don Mueang International airport in Bangkok. It has received permission to operate seven weekly flights to and from Kathmandu, Said Suresh Acharya, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The airport slot at Tribhuvan International Airport are granted only after 5.30pm when the traffic is less.

Low cost carriers are increasing their strong foothold in Nepal’s market as demand for cheap air travel continues to grow. Entry of Thai Lion would boost LCC’s presence in Nepal’s market by one fourth. Currently, Indigo, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Air Asia and Malindo Air are operating in Nepal. Another airline based in Oman Salam Air will also enter in the market soon.

The passenger traffic through Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) had plunged 8.37 percent to a 13 year low of 3.21 million in 2015, as travelers stayed away due to the earthquake in April 2015. In 2016 passenger traffic swelled to 9.12 percent – 3.51 million. According to TIA, 29 airlines made 33,362 flights in 2017. This has caused severe congestion at the only international airport in Nepal. Due to the congestions sometime aircraft takes a while to land while waiting to get landing slot.

    (Condensed from news published in Kathmandu Post dated April 14 and Aug 1, 2018)


Climbing Everest has become quice safe now , says Messner  

World Renowned mountaineer Reinhold Messner said that climbing Everest had become quite safe and economical as there were thousands of hopeful Everest Summit seekers every year, even as charges continue to be raised against lax attitudes to safety on the world’s tallest peak.

Now, Everest is not a safe mountain, but quite a safe mountain,” he said. The Italian climber is the first man to climb all 14 eight-thousand meter peaks in the world without auxiliary oxygen. Messner and seven other renowned Everest summiters who made the ascent in 1978 were facilitated by the government of Nepal for their contribution to promoting Nepal. Messner said climbing Everest was economical as thousands of people are paying $11,000 a piece to obtain climbing permit only. “If you reduce the price nobody else is up there. Now there are thousands of people up there.”

Everest and the natural heritage is a big draw for foreign tourists, and the number has been increasing, he added. However, the culture of the Himalaya is gradually dying. “During our time we used to see yak herders up in the Himalaya, but all are now climbing guides,” he said.  Another famous mountaineer Wolfgang Nairz, who runs number of projects to help Nepalis get an education and a better life, said, “When I first came to Nepal , I saw Nepal was more than a mountain . This is why I come again and again. “   (News published in Kathmandu Post April 19, 2018)   Nepal’s monsoon season is ideal for trekking in remote, high-altitude regions like Mustang and Dolpo, which fall in the rain shadow. .

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Home Stay in Marsyandi Villages 

Home stay has become popular in the Gurung villages of Marsyangdi Rural Municipality.  The program is being conducted in thirteen units (wards).  The chairperson of the village municipality, Arjun Gurung, said that this program has been initiated to help villagers to supplement their income. According to him, home stay program is run by Ghanpokhari (ward-1), Sirung & Dangai (ward-3), Chapa and Mipra (ward-4), Ghanikaon (ward-5) and, Bhisme and Nauko Bhalamchaur (ward-8) villages. More than seventy house hold are hosting home stay for tourists. Some more nearby villages are planning to be included in this program. The villagers are improving clean living conditions, walking trail and access roads. They are doing organic farming to cater visitors who come to stay there.  Last year the village municipality has contributed 1 million rupees to help villagers in the improvement work.  This year it has allocated 2.5 million rupees in their budget.

Typical home stay program includes transfer to the road head near to the village. Walk 3 to 4 hours to the village. Guests are welcomed by the local hosts. Visitors stay with the host family. They can participate in their day to day activity. Separate clean double bed room and home cooked meals are provided by the host. Common bathroom and toilet are separately located. In free time visitors are taken for sightseeing around the villages and view point. They can go fishing with the villagers in the nearby river if it is close by. In the evening the host and the community perform their traditional song and dance. Welcome and farewell are performed by the villagers as special event to make the visitors feel at home.

Usually the home stay program is 2 nights (3 days) with full board and activities. Such home stay has become popular in Tharu villages in Chitwan and other parts of Nepal. Beside foreign visitors city people are visiting these villages to escape city life to get taste of local culture, rural environment and organic food. The first such program was started at Sirubari near Pokhara.  Due to road in Marysngdi valley the villagers who used to run tea houses and tourist lodges are also getting ready to attract trekkers by using the same model so the visitors takes the walking trail off the main road through their villages. Because of the road to Chame and Manang the 8 day trek to Manang is shortened to 2 days. Though the road has brought convenience and connectivity to people living in the hinterland it has deprived livelihood of many local villages on the famous Around Annapurna walking trail. They are seriously working on to find an equally interesting walking trail off the dusty and bumpy road.

The information and article is extracted from Gorkhapatra (vernacular daily) published on 9 August, 2018 and translated for clarity.


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