13th Chitwan Elephant Festival begins in Sauraha

13th Chitwan Elephant Festival 2016

13th Chitwan Elephant Festival 2016

The festival began with the eye-catching procession of bedecked elephants that originated from the eastern sector of the Chitwan National Park and passed through Sauraha. A Tharu cultural rally was also the part of the inaugural session of the festival.

Tharu Dance

Tharu Dance

The nine various programs including elephant ‘fast walk’ tournament, elephant Polo, a football match among elephant calves, cart race, elephant painting, picnic for elephants, a cultural program and a boat riding competition are the parts of the festival.

Elephant Polo

Elephant Polo

The festival is the continuity of the Elephant Race Tournament that used to be held in Sauraha 12 years ago.

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

Landmark Forest Park Chitwan

Visit: Kathmandu to Chitwan Tour Packages with Samrat Tours & Travels

Nepal is beautiful and safe, recommend foreign tourists

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The tourists visiting Nepal in the aftermath of the massive earthquake have opined that Nepal’s pristine beauty has remained intact while the tourist destinations are safe for travel.

Australian photographer Beniji Santa Maria during his visit to tourist destinations found that they were safer for travel. He travelled for a week at the Ghandruk Himalayan area at the world famous Annapurna Trekking route and also visited major destinations inside Pokhara, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.

“The media had been disseminating such news as if to convey to the world a message that the earthquake completely destroyed all the infrastructures in Nepal, but I have found that it is not true and I have seen that the hotels, restaurants, trek routes and famous tourist destinations are safe for travel,” Santa Maria said.

Travelling in Nepal

He said travelling to Nepal was a dream come true for him and termed Nepal an ‘extremely romantic place’. The Australian will return to Nepal in March next year as he could not get enough from the current visit. With deeply entrenched passion for Nepali lifestyle and culture, and the untouched villages of the Himalayan range, the Australian wants to hold an exhibition of the photos that he took in Nepal when he gets back home.

Santa Maria says that the Dhaulagiri mountain, the Annapurna mountain range and Pokhara valley seen from the Pun Hill located 3,200 meters above the sea level has mesmerized him and so has the beauty of Newari culture of Kathmandu Valley and its peculiar lifestyle.

“Nepal is really splendid in terms of natural beauty and also secure, and it is necessary to spread this message world over,” said Santa Maria before leaving for Indonesia and Malaysia. The tourist has travelled to more than a dozen countries.

Canadian nationals, Bruce Edwards and Theresa Roberts, visited Nepal for the fourth time to help the quake victims and convey the message to the would-be tourists around the world after accessing Nepal’s condition.

Finnish Rock Band near everest

This Canadian couple with a special liking for traveling to many destinations in the world has started a campaign of garnering support for the quake victims through a website and acted as liaison between the donors and the victims. They say that support had been collected for quake-stricken schools and children. “It was merely an illusion that we thought the earthquake would make traveling in Nepal difficult, but there are no problems for accommodation and food, however, fuel scarcity is making life difficult here,” Roberts said.

During their visit to Pokhara and other destinations for a month after coming to Kathmandu they mobilised support for rebuilding community buildings including some schools through the website and identifying the quake victims. “We will help spread a positive message that traveling to Nepal with the magnificent Himalayan range, alpine lakes, rivers, hills, different languages, culture and traditional lifestyle is safe,” the Canadian couple, who came to Nepal after visiting South Korea, said.

A couple with surname Gunter from New York who were strolling around at the Basantapur Durbar square said although the media had depicted Nepal has a completely ruined place, it was not true.

“Some monuments have collapsed, but there is no difficulties and lack of facilities for tourists to stay and travel in Nepal and we will convey this message when we return back to the US,” they said. The couple is also planning to visit Bhutan.

Bhaktapur-durbar-square5

Tourists have started showing up at the Bhaktapur, Patan and Basantapur Durbar areas but the number is much less as compared to previous year. The failure to disseminate information regarding tourists’ accommodation and tour packages in the post-quake Nepal has led to a drastic shrinkage in the number of visits at the height of the ongoing tourist season.

The Basantapur Durbar Square tourist information center said that in fiscal year 2014/15 a total of 27,116 tourists visited the area. The Durbar Square collected Rs 157 million from them. This year 5,593 tourists have visited by the first week of October. Last year 22, 255 tourists had come for visits by mid-August while between mid-August and mid-September a total of 16,000 tourists visited Basantapur.

Sujan Rijal, who has been working as a tour guide for the last five years, said the number of tourists visiting Nepal as compared to last year has come down.

“The tourists have declined this season as we failed to send information at the right time that Nepal’s tourism destinations suffered less impact during the earthquake,” Rijal said, adding, “Looking at the tourists’ visits right now we can assume that the number will increase in the next season.”

Source: Kathmandupost

We will try our best to bring back Nepal to No 1

Glenn Rowley, founding director of UK based KE Adventure Travel was in Nepal for almost a month, visiting Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), among others. Kriti Bhuju of Republica talked to Rowley on how KE has been supporting Nepal for the last 30 years and how KE can help in the revival of Nepal’s tourism industry. Excerpts:

Glenn Rowley

How did KE Adventure Travel start its journey in Nepal?

I have always been into climbing and trekking. In 1984, I just wanted to see the mountains in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan where nobody had taken any trekkers or been to. We trekked to the K2 Base Camp. It took three weeks and we found it was one of the hardest trekking routes. After coming back, we decided to take a group there to share the Karakoram experience which became the basis for the companys name KE). We spent the 1984/1985 season there. About the time we finished there, they opened the Khunjerab Pass that connects Pakistan with China for the first time, traveled there and then down through Tibet on road and came to Kathmandu in October 1986.

I then had the idea of offering trekking packages to peaks in Nepal as nobody was offering this type of destination as a holiday. I then climbed Chulu East peak and trekked through the Annapurna Circuit. The following year we named our experience KE Adventure Travel. In those days all we were interested in were new trek routes, so we did Dolpo, Humla, Kanchanjunga, Makalau and the Mera Peak.

In 1989, I took our first group to Tashi Lapcha across Rolwaling and from Tumlingtar to the Mera Peak. We promoted many peaks beside EBC and ABC and it was only in 1990 that we became more commercial and advertised these two most sought after destinations.

You focus mostly on adventure travel holidays. How do you ensure that you can still bring guests during times of crisis like now?

Nepal was the number one destination for us until 2013 when we used to bring 700 to 800 clients a year here. When the earthquake hit, we stopped getting new bookings for Nepal, but we also had no cancellations. We called all our clients and told them that Nepal was safe and that we could still organize trips here. We convinced them not to cancel even as all other companies were canceling.

We did face a few problems as our Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had issued a travel advisory asking citizens to practice some cautions about coming here. So we contacted our insurers and they agreed to continue coverage for us for operating in Nepal despite the foreign office advisory. We told our clients that the FCO would change its advisory soon and it did change in October. Till then we didn’t have any cancellation. This way, we managed to bring guests and now we are focusing aggressively in promoting Nepal in the best ways we can.

How did your clients respond right after the earthquake? How many tourists have you sent to Nepal after April 25?

We have brought around 400 clients post earthquake but we couldn’t convince our clients until we got a proper picture from feedback of people who were still trekking here and enjoying the beauty of Nepal. So far, we have sent more than 15,000 clients to Nepal for trekking, of which 80 percent are from the UK and 20 percent are from the US. Nepal was our top selling destination among 200 destinations before April 2015 and now it has dropped down to Number 10 not only because of the earthquake but also as more people are showing preference for Europe these days. However, we are trying our best to bring it back to Number 1 again by spring 2016.

Its only old houses and structures that collapsed. Solid structures are the same as before. People were surprised with the smiling faces, fantastic quality of service and all the still standing structures as back in the UK they were still thinking that everything had collapsed. They found less traffic, easier roads to cycle around, and trekking areas quieter. Most of our clients think its the right time to come to Nepal.

How are you planning to pull Nepal back to your No 1 destination?

We did a Back to Nepal campaign a month ago, with pictures from Annapurna, Everest, Dolpa, Mera Peak, etc, showing that everything was good and safe here. We also launched a “Save Pound 100” campaign on November 17 for all our packages to Nepal for the spring if they booked before December 31 for the spring season, and before February 29 for the autumn. We have also waived rental charges on trekking equipment.

We have been posting best pictures of Nepal from Annapurna, Everest, Dolpa, and Mera Peak, among others showing travelers that everything is good and safe.

Through the Juniper Trust a partner organization of KE we have raised US Dollar 150,000 and are building 10 schools at various earthquake affected areas in Nepal.

In your opinion, what is the USP of Nepal?

Its people and their friendly behavior, smile and resilience, the weather, and definitely the mountains. Of our total clients, 20 percent are repeat customers to Nepal and they come back here for the people.

What should Nepal do in the current situation to revive the tourism industry? How can the government here support private companies like your who have been supporting Nepal?

First, solve the current problem and solve the supply crisis of daily essentials and fuel that has a direct impact on prices. Right after the earthquake, the monsoon started and nobody knew what the situations were like in the trekking areas. The government could have done a lot during the monsoon period to revive tourism for the autumn but nothing was done.

The government can facilitate getting climbing permits processed faster as it has become slower with Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) not giving permits now. The government can reduce permit fees for trekking peaks for even a year i.e. for 2016. The government can come bring out campaigns like “Free Permit Year 2016” or something like that which will help Nepal revive faster.

We are trying to extend the season in December and January i.e. the Christmas New Year season as prospective clients have holidays. The government should also think of extending the season.

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Source: My Republica

Nepal hopes for more Indian tourists for rapid recovery

Only a third of a total 30,000 seats a week under an air service agreement with India is available due to the limited number of flights between Nepal and India. Tourism entrepreneurs say that gap needs to be cut airlines to help Nepal’s tourism sector recover after the earthquake of April.

Ujjwala Dali, the officiating director of the marketing and promotion department of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), says Nepal needs to bring more Indian tourists not only to fill the remaining seats but also for the tourism industry to recover faster. In an effort to get back on their feet, four months after the devastating earthquake Nepal’s tourism entrepreneurs have travelled all the way to Bangalore and are organizing promotional events there to promote Nepal as a tourist destination and attract Indian tourists.

NTB organized promotional events at the Bangalore Press Club hoping the media there will help relay a message to the people there to visit Nepal.

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    This trek is the one of best views of annapurna range, nilgiri , Dhaulagiri , Tukuche peak , Dhampus peak , Hiunchuli ,Machhapuchhre , Gangapurna, Lamjung Himal other many more greatest views of mountains you never seen before.
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Speaking at the event, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter Chairman Suman Pandey said that recognized tour operators and renowned international organizations who had visited Nepal after the earthquake as well as positive advisories from different countries had declared Nepal a safe place to visit. Tourism was open in the country, he said.

Nepal has also launched the NEPAL: BACK ON TOP OF THE WORLD campaign to broadcast that tourism services had resumed and to help bring in foreign tourists.

At an event here in Bangalore, NTB also made public a logo and a slogan ‘NEPAL: BACK ON TOP OF THE WORLD’ to convey the message that Nepal was open for business and ready to welcome tourists.

“The logo and slogan are a part of our recovery campaign and will go on for six months. We request all of you to visit Nepal and be a part of the campaign and help Nepal rebuild,” NTB’s Dali said.

To bring in more Indian tourists to Nepal, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) launched direct flights to Bangalore on September 1, and to Mumbai on Friday after a decade’s hiatus.

“We have announced a special ‘buy two tickets get one free’ offer on round-trip tickets on Kathmandu-Bangalore flights targeting Indian tourists,” Ram Hari Sharma, the corporate director of NAC, said.

Govinda Bahadur Karki, the director general of the Department of Tourism, says that as many as 61 districts out of the total of 75 are unaffected or least-affected by the quake and were ready to welcome tourists while the 14 quake-hit districts are also getting back on their feet and rebuilding.

“After the quake, Nepal had immediately formed the Nepal Tourism Promotion Committee (NTPC) for to work on the recovery of the tourism industry. We have also formed the Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) as a high-powered authority to execute recovery and reconstruction programs,” Karki said.

Pandey says Nepal is expecting to bring in visitor levels to at least 60 to 70 percent of previous times this autumn and hopes to hit the previous levels in the spring of 2016. The country received around 800,000 tourists in 2014.

NAC TO FLY TO Kolkata, SRI LANKA

NAC says it will start flights to Kolkata and Sri Lanka in the near future. Saroj Kasaju, the commercial director of NAC, says the flag carrier is working to begin flights to Kolkata directly and plan to fly to Sri Lanka via Bangalore.

NAC says it may take at least three to four months to starts flights to Sri Lanka, which would be a new destination for NAC.

“Sri Lanka as a new destination and will help augment the flag carrier’s presence,” Sharma, the NAC corporate director, said.

NepalNOW.org WEBSITE IN OPERATION

NTB and a group of tourism entrepreneurs, with support of CBI — a Netherlands-based organization — have launched a public campaign for visiting Nepal through the NepalNOW.org website. The site provides current status information about Nepal.

The NepalNOW movement has received much appreciation from tourism entrepreneurs around the globe and has already created a buzz in the social media, people from the tourism sector say.

NAC resumes flights to Mumbai

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) began scheduled flights to Mumbai on Friday.

According to a NAC statement, its Airbus 320 made fly to Mumbai from Kathmandu on Friday, carrying 52 passengers on board. The flag carrier will fly twice a week to Mumbai — on Mondays and Fridays, according to the statement. NAC has set the one-way fare for Kathmandu-Mumbai flights at Rs 11,109, while two-way fare for the service has been fixed at Rs 22,049.Meanwhile, NAC has also announced to an offer of a free ticket with the purchase of every two two-way tickets on its Kathmandu-Mumbai flights.NAC started flying to Mumbai after a gap of 11 years. The aim of the resumption of flights to the film city is to attract religious tourists, industrialists and tourists.

Source: myrepublica

Pokhara tourism entrepreneurs call to lift negative travel advisories

Tourism entrepreneurs in the Lake City have asked foreign governments not to issue any negative travel advisory to discourage their citizen Nepal visit in the wake of devastating April 25 earthquake. They have asked Nepali diplomatic missions abroad to take initiatives for the end. Due to such negative advisory after the massive earthquake, they argued, flow of Chinese tourists has significantly decreased. After the devastating earthquake, the Chinese government had asked its citizens not to visit Nepal for safety concerns. However, six tourists including five journalists from Kunming Municipality of Yunnan Province of the northern neighbor visited Pokhara to know the reality.

tourists-in-pokhara

Tourists enjoying on the bank of Phewa Lake in Pokhara in an undated file photo. Photo: THT

At a programme organized by Pokhara Tourism Revival Committee (PTRC), tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara requested the visiting Chinese journalists to help promote positive views about Pokhara visit after the devastating earthquake. PTRC Vice-Coordinator Bishwo Palikhel informed that there is a good relation between Pokhara and Kunming city of China, so the media persons must help promote the visit of Pokhara for the enhancement of tourism sector rattled by the earthquake.

After the devastating earthquake, Chinese tourists had feared to visit Pokhara, but now if the Chinese journalists spread positivity, again there will be the flow of Chinese tourists, informed Palikhel. The journalists also promised for promotion of positive views to attract Chinese people toward Nepal. Entrepreneurs also emphasized for exchanging two countries journalists to enhance the tourism sector.

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Source: The Himalayan Times

Nepal sees 1,635 trekkers after the earthquake

Even though the number of foreign tourists has gone down drastically after the devastating earthquake of April 25, adventure lovers are still enjoying trekking in the mountains of Nepal.

Altogether 1,635 foreign tourists enjoyed trekking trips in Nepal after the earthquake till August 18, statistics of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) shows.

According to the statistics, 296 free individual trekkers (FITs) have enjoyed trekking trips in Nepal after the earthquake.

The number of trekkers, however, is down by 80 percent compared to figures of same period last year. In the same period last year, NTB and TAAN had issued 8,854 TIMS cards.

NTB issues TIMS cards to FITs, while TAAN distributes TIM’s cards to trekkers traveling in groups.

Trekking-in-Nepal

NTB issued 35 TIMS cards in May, 64 in June, 96 in July and 100 till August 18. It had issued 558 TIMS cards in May, 431 in July and 566 in August. NTB doesn’t have figures of June last year as its daily activities were affected in the month due to protest of Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC).”

“Nepal has not closed any trekking area after the earthquake. We have been providing TIMS cards to interested trekker”,” Ramesh Adhikari, chief administrator of NTB, said” “After the earthquake, Annapurna Region has become the most preferred destination of trekker”.”

Similarly, TAAN has issued 1,339 TIMS card after the earthquake. It issued 590 TIMS cards in May, 143 in June, 340 in July and 266 till August 18. The association had issued 3,150 TIMS cards in May, 593 in June, 1,627 in July and 1,929 in August.”

“It is good to note that adventure lovers are still trekking in Nepal in the post-quake situation that too in monso”n,” Adhikari said, addin”, “We are working to normalize the life of the people in major trekking areas. Our focus is on reconstruction and maintenance of trails and bridges so that people can trek in Nepal without any hassles in the coming seas”n.” He also said even local community of different trekking areas has taken initiative to rehabilitate trails and welcome tourists.

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, with the help of international agencies like World Bank and Samarth, has carried out assessment of trekking trails in Everest and Annapurna regions. Miyamoto International, a global engineering firm, carried out assessments of trails in both the regions and declared that most of the trails there are unaffected by trek and safe to visit.

Sagar Pandey, general secretary of TAAN, said they were planning series of events for the revival of trekking in Nepal. For the coming New Year, we are planning ‘New Year Walk in Langtang Region’ and Anniversary Walk on April 25 in one trekking ar”a,” Pandey sai”. “Nepal Adventure Week, which is being held in October, will help in promotion of adventure tourism as the event will see participation of representatives from different international tour operato”s.”

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Source: My Republica