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.

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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

Back on its feet, Nepal ready to receive tourists

Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake.

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Than three months since Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake which had taken a toll on its economy, the country is finally ready to receive tourists like before, said Deputy Consul General of the Nepal government Surendra Thapa in Kolkata on Friday. Speaking on the occasion of the Travel and Tourism fair being held in Kolkata, Thapa said Nepal, which used to receive 800,000 tourists annually, of which 150,000 were from India alone, has recovered from the devastating earthquake and urged Indians to make Kathmandu their next travel destination. Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake. However, everything has gradually come back to normal, said an official of the Nepal Tourism Board. He pointed out that out of 75 Nepalese districts; only 11 surrounding Kathmandu were affected by the earthquake. But the tourist infrastructure such as roads, drinking water, healthcare, flights, airports and others are fully operational.

Urging Indian tourists to visit the neighboring country, the official said, “It is time to get over the psychological barrier and enjoy Nepal once again.” Further, he added that of the eight UNESCO-recognized tourism circuits recognized by the government, only three had been affected by the earthquake. The official also pointed out that more than 90 per cent hotels are back to business and telephones lines have also been restored. The tourism officials said a Japanese agency that came to assess the damage has identified that only 4 km of a total circuit of 210 km in about 36 trekking routes around Annapurna region was destroyed and the rest was safe for trekking. The popular Pokhara valley is also fully operational, they said.

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Source: www.indianexpress.com

Pokhara entrepreneurs assess Annapurna trails, declare them safe

Tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara have assessed trekking trails in the Annapurna Region and declared them safe to visit.

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Dipesh Shrestha/Republica Members of the ‘Solidarity Walk to Annapurna for Tourism Revival’ team, tourists and locals join hands at the top of Poon Hill (3,210 m).

Around 40 tourism entrepreneurs from Pokhara completed the popular Ghandruk-Ghorepani Trek this week as part of ‘Solidarity Walk to Annapurna for Tourism Revival’.
Ram Chandra Sharma, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal Western Regional Association (TAAN-WRA), said the solidarity walk was organized to access the condition of trails after the devastating earthquake.

From the top of Poon Hill (3,210 meters), TAAN-WRA declared that trekking trails in Annapurna Region, all highways and airports, business complexes, and hotels, guest house and restaurants are safe. “We are prepared to welcome tourists to Nepal,” added Sharma.

Binaya Acharya, secretary of TAAN-WRA, said all teahouses, hotels and lodges in Annapurna Region have resumed operation.

Tourism entrepreneurs say they trekked in the Annapurna Region because they cannot assure safety of tourists by staying in their offices. “We organized this walk despite the monsoon, because we cannot assure trekkers that they are safe here without making assessment of the route. Foreigners trust us only we provide them factual information,” he said.

Annapurna Region

Though hotels in Ghandruk-Ghorepani area are almost empty, local hoteliers are hopeful of welcoming trekkers in autumn. Kisam Gurung, president of Tourism Management Committee, Ghandruk said that the visit and assessment of the area by tourism entrepreneurs is a strong proof that the area is safe. “Now, we can confidently say that the area is safe,” he added.

Similarly, Tika Ram Sapkota, media coordinator of PTRC, said the solidarity walk and the dissemination of message that the area is safe will definitely help to bring tourists in the area in autumn. We hope tourists will not cancel their bookings,” he added.

Beatrice Hearne from Indiana (US), who has booked a seven-day Nayapul-Ghorepani-Phedi trek for herself and her husband for autumn, said she was concerned because of lack of factual information. “Now that the area has been declared safe, we are really excited about the trip,” she told Republica in a Facebook chat.

Som Thapa, president of Pokhara Tourism Council, as all trails, bridges, tea houses, hotels and lodges are safe, tourism entrepreneurs can now invite their guests without worrying about anything. “Now we can assure tourists confidently that the area is safe,” he added.

The walk was organized jointly by TAAN-WRA in coordination with PTRC.

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Source: My Republica

Tourism fraternity welcomes plan to organize Visit Nepal Year

Tourism entrepreneurs have welcomed the idea to celebrate Visit Nepal Year (VNY) campaign in 2017 or 2018, assuming that reconstruction and rebuilding works will be completed by then.

It its Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, National Planning Commission (NPC) has suggested organizing VNY campaign in 2017 and 2018 to rebuild and rebrand Nepal’s tourism image.

Tourism entrepreneurs say the campaign would be effective in promoting Nepali tourism brand in international arena and help bring more tourists. They, however, are for implementing the campaign under public private partnership (PPP) model, saying that the government alone cannot re-brand and promote Nepal in the international market.

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PDNA report states that significant efforts and resources as well as proper coordination among key stakeholders would be necessary to ensure that foreign tourists perceive Nepal as a safe destination so that the campaign can be successful.

Bijay Amatya, CEO of Kora Tours, said extensive preparations should be done so that VNY can actually help to bring not just the regular but additional tourists. “We need to focus on promoting new destinations like Dolpa, Rara, Jumla and Ilam, and organizing more international events like Indra Matta, Mani Rimdu and Everest Marathon, among others,” said Amatya.

The report estimates the decline in revenue from entry fees at cultural monuments in Kathmandu Valley will be worth Rs 600 million (US$ 6 million) over the next 12 months. However, tourism entrepreneurs say the loss can be recovered by promoting tourism as a new tourism product as people from all over the world might be interested to come and see how survivors recover and how Nepal rebuilds its cultural heritages and monuments.

“As foreigners have always praised Nepali hospitality, they might love to come and see how Nepalis come out of rubbles and focus on reconstruction,” Raj Gyawali, a tourism entrepreneur, said. “We should focus on people and recovery. The contrast of vibrant modern society with traditional values and heritage should be promoted as foreigners love and value it as they do not have it in their country.”

Among others, tourism entrepreneurs suggest to the government to promote new destinations, provide special packages for tourists, and marketing creatively with new approach for tourism recovery.

Ramesh Kumar Adhikari, chief administrator of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said celebrating 2017 or 2018 as VNY could help a lot in tourism recovery. “We can make VNY a grand success if we work in proper coordination and make necessary preparations,” he said. He also added that NTB was planning to organize an international expo in Nepal as per the Pokhara Declaration 2015.

Tourism entrepreneurs, however, say the country should be able spread positive message throughout the world and make people feel that Nepal is safe to visit before making any announcement regarding VNY.

Andrew Jones, vice chairman of PATA, said Nepal needs to tell the world that the situation here is not that worse as seen in international media. “Before arriving Nepal, I was expecting to see whole lot of devastation as shown in different media. But when I arrived here, I was surprised to see that most of the areas in Nepal are still intact and are untouched by the quake,” Jones told Republica in a recent interview. He also suggested the government and tourism entrepreneurs to promote attractions, facilities and areas of heritage and culture, and natural beauty, that have not been affected by the earthquake.

Ramesh Prasad Dhamala, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), said that government should focus on reducing aviation turbine fuel, landing and parking charges at Tribhuwan International Airport so that the air fare will be reduced automatically which will definitely help bring in more tourists. “The national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation should be strengthened, so that it can fly to different destinations in the world offering cheap fares. This will help us attract more tourists,” he added.

The recovery strategy for tourism in PDNA has four distinct phases — identifying and assessing unaffected and safe tourist destinations, creating a ‘safe trekking system’ for mountain tourism in Nepal, rebuilding and redeveloping damaged areas, and identifying and developing new tourist products and services.

If these things can be focused sequentially, Nepal will be ready to host more tourists very soon.

“Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 campaign helped us to bring 300,000 additional tourists. If campaigns like VNY can be launched with a strong message, it is not difficult to bring more tourists here,” Yogendra Shakya, national coordinator of NTY, said.

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Source: Republica

TAAN should be given responsibility to assess, repair trekking trails’

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Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala has said that the responsibility of assessing and reconstructing quake-damaged trekking trails should be given to TAAN.
Stating that TAAN has a pool of trained trekking workers, who know geography of mountain areas very well, and the expertise in trekking and mountaineering sector, Dhamala said TAAN will perform responsibility assigned to it in time and in a professional manner.
Speaking as a keynote speaker in the second session of a workshop organized by Development Committee of legislature-parliament in Pokhara on January 20, he also urged the government and the donor agencies to work together for rebuilding.  “The government should provide collateral-free soft loans to tourism entrepreneurs so that they become ready to host tourists at the earliest,” he said.
He also requested the government to reduce royalty fee to Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa to US$ 100 for a year and waive off permit fee for other controlled areas for one year to attract more tourists. “We can attract Indian tourists by developing package linking religious sites like Damodar Kunda, Muktinath, Tribeni Dham and Pashupatinath,” he added. He also requested the government to provide salary to tourism workers, who have become jobless, for at least three months as grant.
Saying that foreign insurance companies are hesitating to insure tourists interested to visit Nepal due to negative travel advisories issued by the government, he said TAAN is ready to buy insurance cover for trekkers and mountaineers by levying fee of $50 per person.
President Dhamala was actively involved in preparation of Pokhara Declaration.
Speaking at the meeting, Andrew Jones, vice president of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), said Nepal should launch promotional campaigns to invite tourists in areas that are untouched by the earthquake. He also said preparation was underway to certify by international experts that trekking trails are safe.
Crisis Management Expert of PATA Bert Van Walbeek suggested inviting foreign tour operators to Nepal and using social media to invite people to visit Nepal. “As people are becoming tech-savvy these days, Nepalis should post positive images on social media and inform people around the world that Nepal is safe. Likewise, newsletter and news should be published and broadcast in such a way that positive message is spread all over the world”, he added.
Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of the committee, said the workshop was organized in Pokhara to spread the message that is safe for tourists. Among others, Adhikari suggested to the government to waive off visa fee for three months, waive off entry fee for Annapurna Conservation Area, and introduce travel incentive leave (TIL) for government officials for promotion of domestic tourism.
Speaking at the program, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa said they can start rebuilding damaged infrastructures immediately if finance ministry releases budget for the purpose.
Likewise, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said that the ministry was preparing plans to take tourism industry to the pre-quake level.

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Source : TAAN

Help Nepal: take a holiday there

A recent event hosted by the Nepal Embassy in Bangkok makes it clear that the country needs visitors to aid recovery

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Local artists arrive for a ritual dance as part of the opening of Bhaktapur to tourists at Darabar Square, Bhaktapur. EPA

Following the earthquakes that brought death and destruction to Nepal on April 25 and May 12, the government of Nepal recently assured visitors that Nepal is once again safe and ready to welcome tourists.

Out of 75 districts, only 11 are affected and only three trekking routes remain closed.

“While the damage from the earthquake was extensive, the vast majority of the country was unaffected. The safety and security of visitors is one of the government’s top priorities, as re-establishing the tourism industry is vital to Nepal’s recovery,” stressed Nepal’s ambassador to Thailand, Khaga Nath Adhikari, at the recent “Nepal is Safe: Visit Nepal, Help Nepal” event held at the Holiday Inn Silom Hotel in Bangkok.

Major tourist sites such as Lumbini, Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park have not been affected. Popular tourist activities such as trekking, kayaking, ziplining and mountaineering are still operating. The only exceptions are the three trekking routes of Langtang, Manaslu and Gaurishankar, which remain closed.

A strict examination process by expert committees has determined the safety of all affected areas. Any roads or structures that are not safe have been identified and are closed to the public, added deputy ambassador Dornath Aryal.

Thousands of Thais visit Nepal every year. The country does not want this to change and thus is enthusiastically promoting all that Nepal has to offer, such as the unique cultural diversity, beautiful natural scenery and the wide range of outdoor pursuits.

To encourage visitors, many hotels, attractions and agencies are offering discounts, sometimes of up to 50 per cent to help businesses recover. Even the visa office will be working overtime to try and ensure same day visa processing to make visiting Nepal as easy as possible.

The government’s push to promote tourism in the country comes after the earthquake that killed 8,789 and destroyed 511,390 houses and resulted in an estimated loss of 81.25 billion Rs (Bt26.8 billion) for the tourism industry. A second quake on May 12, while not as powerful as the first, is estimated to have killed more than 100 people.

“Despite concerns over continuing aftershocks, these pose no danger and do not indicate any further risk. While tourism will obviously assist with the economic recovery of Nepal, it is also hugely important for our country to return to normal to facilitate the psychological recovery of the its people,” the ambassador said.

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Source: nationmultimedia.com