Tourist inflow via air sees exponential growth

Visitors to Nepal

Visitors to Nepal

Tourist inflow to Nepal jumped by 46.8 per cent in the first six months of 2017, indicating signs of recovery in the tourism industry that was shattered by the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015 and the subsequent trade disruptions.

According to the Department of Immigration, the country received a total of 460,237 tourists in the first half of this year via air route, against 313,512 in the corresponding period of the previous year. Tourist arrivals in the first half of this year surpassed the figure of 2014, before the earthquake struck when country had received 412,461 tourists in the first six months.

Travel and tour entrepreneurs are upbeat about the revival of the tourism industry along with the increase in tourist arrivals.

“The earthquake and fuel crisis had adversely affected the flow of tourists in 2015 and 2016, but though the figure has increased this year, it is still a far cry from our target to bring in two million tourists by 2020,” said Madhusudan Acharya,president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA).

Nepal a safe tourist destination

Nepal a safe tourist destination

Tourism entrepreneurs have cited weak infrastructure and high airfare as the major obstacles in tourist arrival growth.

“Nepal has been included among the top 10 travel destinations in 2017 by the Lonely Planet, a leading travel guide. Despite the positive message disseminated across the world, tourist flow is still tepid,” according to Binayak Shah, general secretary of Hotel Association Nepal.

Tourist arrival was at a record high in 2012, when the country had received 803,000 visitors by air. Entrepreneurs have said that the country is likely to receive even more number of tourists this year as the inflow of tourists is normally higher in the second half. The period between September and November is considered as the best tourist season in Nepal.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

HAN General Secretary Shah informed that along with the large number of international organisations working in Nepal for post-quake reconstruction activities, the flow of visitors also increased as the reconstruction works gathered momentum since the beginning of this year. He stressed on the need to expand the country’s only international airport — Tribhuvan International Airport — and improve road connectivity.

“Air traffic congestion, high airfare and bleak road conditions are the major bottlenecks to raise the number of tourists,” Shah asserted. He alleged that the government is not serious towards developing critical infrastructure even though the private sector has substantially increased investment in the sector.

Visitor in Nepal

Visitor in Nepal

Shah also pointed out the prospect of bringing in more tourists from neighbouring India and China as the number of outbound travellers has been growing in these countries. Though the number of outbound travellers has been rising in India and China, the country has failed to tap the potential due to high airfare, he stated. “The airfare to Kathmandu is relatively higher at $350 for a 30-minute flight.”

In the January to June period this year, the country received a high number of tourists from India with a total of 89,196 visitors from the southern neighbour followed by China with 52,084 travellers via air. The country had received 54,224 tourists from India and 33,991 tourists from China in the same period of the previous year.

Source: Thehimalayantimes

Naag Panchami in Nepal

Nag Panchami Pooja

Nag Panchami Pooja

Nag Panchami is the day of snakes. Nags are worshiped this day in Nepal. Nags are snakes and Panchami means the fifth day after no-moon day.

Nags are worshiped on the fifth day following the no-moon (aushi). Hence, the day is called Nag Panchami. Aushi means no-moon day in Nepali.

What is Nag?

Nags are deity snakes or special snakes. Those snakes have especial roles in Hindu Mythologies.

There are various mythological beliefs about Nagpanchami and its celebration.

Mahabharata tells that Lord Krishna conquered Nag Kalia and put an end to his evil deeds on the day of Shrawan Panchami. People believe that is the reason why people started celebrating this panchami as Nag Panchami.

Kathmandu valley used to be a big lake. Nags became very angry when human drained the lake to make it livable. To protect themselves against the anger of Nagas, people gave nags certain areas as pilgrimage destinations, and promise to worship them on the day, returning harmony in nature. That is continued till date.

Lord Bhrama’s son Kashyap rishi had thirteen wives namely Aditi, Dit, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Sauravi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasa, Ida, Khasa, and Muni. Aditi gave birth to Devta, Diti to Garud, Kadroo to Nags, Danu to Daitya.

Those Nags were the rulers of Patal lok.The great eight nags are Ananta, Vashuki, Padhmanavha, Kambala, Shankhapala, Dhartarashtra, Takshaka, and Kaliya. These Nags were very powerful and worshiped.

Nag Panchami Pooja

Nag Panchami Pooja

How is Nag Panchami celebrated in Nepal

In this day, Nepali traditionally post pictures of Nags above the doors of their homes to keep off evil spirits. They worship the nag by offering a symbol of milk (the white color liquid from the paste of rice). People keep milk for snakes near snake holes.

People make cottons garland, use cow dung and rice flour’s serpent’s from and worship it with cow’s milk, lava, barley, sesame, nuts and with some other religious items. It is believed that if Nag-Panchami is observed properly every year the Nags provide us good health wealth and blessing during our life. If Nags are angry they make us sick and no medicine can heal.

Nag Pooja Celebration at Nag Pokhari Naxal

Nag Pooja Celebration at Nag Pokhari Naxal

Puran says the earth is lifted by Shesh Nag on his head. Lord Vishnu is sleeping on its coil inside the Ocean. Kali Nag, Bashuki Nag, Astha Nag, Padma Nag; and the Karkot Nags are the very powerful Nags.

Scripture explains that without Nags’ help there will be no rain.So people worship Nags for the cause of water, offer prayers to Nags, and place food items such as milk and honey in their fields for Nags.

Few men wearing demon masks dance in the streets as a part of a Nag Panchami ritual.

We have our own myths and legends surrounding Nags, which lead us to celebrate Nag Panchami on a large scale.

World Environment Day 2017 – Connecting People to Nature

World Environment Day – which is observed on 5 June every year across the globe – is the largest annual event for positive environmental action.

The government has decided to mark World Environment Day by organizing a 10-day awareness campaign from May 27 to June 5.

United Nations Environment Programme has set ‘Connecting People to Nature’ the theme for World Environment Day 2017, imploring human beings to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the earth that people share.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day

According to the Ministry of Population and Environment, Nature Walk will be organised on May 27 morning from Panimuhan of Shivapuri with participation of students, bureaucrats, various organisations and development partners. The participants will pick garbage across the nature walk route.

Similarly, the ministry has requested I/NGOs, schools, universities and academic institutions to keep their premises neat and clean by organising sanitation activities on June 2. A cycle rally will be organised and Bagmati river cleanup activities will begin in collaboration with Bagmati Cleaning Campaign from on June 3.

Likewise, a talk show with the slogan ‘Connecting People to Nature’ has been fixed for June 4 in Patan Campus. On the last and main day on June 5, the Ministry of Population and Environment will organise a programme at City Hall following a rally.

World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action which takes place on June 5. According to UNEP, this year’s host country Canada got to choose the theme and will be at the center of celebrations around the planet.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day

“World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, global citizens have organised many thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests.” it said. “This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.”

UNEP explains connecting to nature can involve all physical senses: why not take off shoes and get feet (and hands) dirty; don’t just look at the beautiful lake, jump in. Take a hike at night and rely on ears and nose to experience nature. One can also connect with nature in the city, where major parks can be a green lung and a hub of biodiversity. Why not do bit to green the urban environment, by greening street or a derelict site, or planting a window box? One could put a spade in the soil or lift a paving slab and see what creatures live beneath.

“In the age of asphalt and smart phones and among the distractions of modern life, connections with nature can be fleeting. But with your help, World Environment Day can make clearer than ever that we need harmony between humanity and nature so that both are able to thrive.” UNEP said.

Source: The Himalayan Times

Nepali runners dominate Everest Marathon

Suman Kulung and Nirkala Rai have won the men’s and women’s category of Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon held in the Everest Region on Monday.

Kulung, who ferries loads of trekkers between Lukla and Everest Base Camp, completed the 42.195 kilometers race in 3:43:57 hours. The 26-year-old Kulung had secured third position in last year’s marathon. Similarly, Nepal Army athletes Surendra Basnet and Bed Bahadur Sunuwar secured second and third positions, respectively, with the timing of 3:52:8 hours and 4:5:40 hours.

The highest marathon in the world begins from the Everest Base Camp (5,300 meters) and concludes at Namche Bazaar (3,450 meters).

Everest Marathon 2017

Everest Marathon 2017

The event is organized every year on May 29 to commemorate the first ascent of Mt Everest by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary back in 1953.

Similarly, Nirkala clinched the women’s title with the timing of 4:51:33 hours. Purnima Rai and Dawa Doma Sherpa finished in the second and third positions, respectively, completing the marathon in 5:07:26 hours and 5:37:43 hours. All the three ladies are from Solukhumbu district.

The top three finishers in both categories became richer by Rs 100,000, Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively.

Everest Marathon 2017

Everest Marathon 2017

Pitor Hercog of Poland won the foreigner’s category with the timing of 4:38:22 hours. Robert Celinski, also from Poland, clocked 4:48:48 hours to secure second position, while French runner Fabrice Arman stood third with the timing of 5:28:30 hours.

Meanwhile, Nepal Army athletes clean swept the 60 km ultra-marathon. Tirtha Bahadur Tamang secured first position clocking 6:38:56 hours, while Mohan Dev Joshi (7:18:16 hours) and Purna Tamang (7:30:00 hours) secured second and third positions, respectively.

The top three finishers in the ultra and foreigner’s categories were given equal amount of Rs 100,000 Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000.

The event was organized by Himalayan Expeditions.

Source: Travelpress

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017 kicks off in Kathmandu

The International Travel Bloggers and Media Conference kicked off here in the capital on Thursday.

This is the first time that the conference has been organised in the country to promote the message in the global tourism market that Nepal is the gateway to the Himalayas. The theme of the conference is – Nepal Gateway to the Himalaya.

Taking part in the meet are 107 travel bloggers from 33 countries, 70 travel and tourism-related experts and more than 100 journalists from various countries.

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

In the biggest tourism event ever, held at Budhanilkantha in the capital, the participants shared knowledge and experience regarding the tourism products of their respective countries, the use of digital media and the new practices in the field.

Experts from various countries shared information on the tourism market, tourism products and ways of promoting both.

Some 500 people from home and abroad participated in the conference organized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter as the executive organizer, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation as the host and Nepal Tourism Board as the main organizer.

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

Minister for Health Gagan Kumar Thapa, inaugurating the conference, said that the conference, organised with a new vision of tourism and a long-term goal, would play a key role in promoting Nepal’s tourism in the world market.

He opined that Nepal’s tourism would be much benefited from the promotional programme through this international level conference in the context of the Nepali tourism market with high potentials in terms of natural, geographical and cultural aspects not been reaping the expected benefits.

He also stressed the need of the government and the private sector to work together for further promoting the country’s tourism.

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

Himalayan Travel Mart 2017

Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourism Board, Deepak Raj Joshi, highlighting the potentialities of Nepal’s tourism market, reiterated that the conference would be useful in giving a new message to the global tourism market.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy described the conference as the appropriate forum for promoting new tourism product in the global tourism by exploring the avenues for nature and culture tourism of Nepal, a country of the Himalayas.

PATA Nepal Chapter president Suman Pandey said that the conference has been organized with the objective of promoting Nepal’s tourism throughout the world through digital media.

Health Minister Thapa also launched the special issue of Himalaya Travel Magazine on the occasion.

Source: Tourismmail

Asia’s Top 10 Destinations for Vegetarian Travelers

Living as a vegetarian is often a challenging life in many parts of the world. The problems may get worse if you love traveling. Luckily, there are many places which are veg-friendly. Some countries listed below have vegetarian tradition deeply rooted into their culture for ages while some of them have recently developed as veg-friendly destinations.

  1. India

India has more vegetarians than anywhere in the world. Traditional beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism inspires people to be vegetarian. The Indian menu is often filled-up with majority of veg dishes. Ingredients like heat, rice, roots and pulses are major ingredients of Indian food. You will find variety of dishes as you move to different parts of India. Dishes like Idli, Dosha, Uthappam with rice as major ingredient is found in Southern India. Northern India offer dishes like Roti, Naan, Samosa with wheat as major ingredient. Happycow has listed 440 veg-friendly restaurants but you will find thousands more when you visit the country.

Idli and Samber found in Southern Part of India.

Idli and Samber found in Southern Part of India.

  1. Thailand

With attractions like diving sites, sandy beaches, tropical islands, Buddhist Temples and archaelogical sites, Thailand is one of the major tourist destinations in Asia. Thanks to its large Buddhist population, you will be able to find plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Thailand. Chiang Mai alone has over 80 veg restaurants. Happycow list 612 veg-friendly restaurants in Thailand. Dont miss out tom yum soup, pad thai, salads and coconut-milk based curries.

Tom Yum soup in Thailand

Tom Yum soup in Thailand

  1. Israel

With numerous tourist attractions including Dead sea, Negev desert and plenty of religious and cultural places, Israel has been a major tourist attraction. There has been a vegan revolution all over Israel in past few years. 8% people in Israel follow vegetariasm and you will be able to find veg dishes almost everywhere. Vegan restaurants are being established everywhere. Happycow lists 279 veg-friendly restaurants in Israel. Dont miss out Hummus, Sambusak and Pita bread if you ever visit the country.

  1. Nepal

With 8 of worlds highest ten mountains, Nepal is a paradise for trekkers and people who love extreme sports. As the majority of the people in Nepal are Hindu or Buddhists, vegetarianism is widely adopted all over Nepal. You will often find at least one vegetarian dish in Nepalese menu. Indian veg-dishes are also available all over Nepal. Happycow lists 56 veg-friendly restaurants in Nepal but you will find thousand more if you visit the country. Dont miss Nepali Veg thali (Dal, Bhat and Tarkari), Veg Momos (Dumplings) and Ju Ju Dhau (Yoghurt made in Bhaktapur) in Nepal.

Assamese_thali

Typical Nepali Thali (Dal, Bhat and Tarkari)

  1. Taiwan

With 13% people following vegetarian diet, Taiwan is often considered a heaven for vegan travels. There are more than 6,000 places serving vegetarian dishes in Taiwan. Taiwan has the best vegetarian labelling laws in the world. Dont miss shuǐ jio (Dumplings), glǐ (Japanese style curry) and tiey ban fàn (Steel-Cooked rice) if you are vegan visiting Taiwan. Happycow has a list of 436 veg-friendly restaurants in Taiwan.

Shuǐ Jiǎo (Dumplings) popular in Taiwan

Shuǐ Jiǎo (Dumplings) popular in Taiwan

  1. Vietnam

Vietnam has risen as one of the most affordable travel destination for people who love landscapes, beaches and rich culture. Buddhism is practiced by majority of the population due to which you can find vegeterian food almost everywhere. Its better to say I only eat Buddhist foods as a way to explain being vegan as word vegan or vegetarian can often confuse people. The country has dedicated Buddhist restaurants in major cities. Dont miss out pho and spring rolls. Happycow has a list of 405 veg-friendly restaurants in Vietnam.

  1. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka can be great travel destination if you love beaches, mountains, wildlife and Buddhist Tradition. Vegetable curries are sold everywhere in Sri Lanka as most people are Buddhists who dont eat meat. Sri Lanka ranks as one of the least meat consuming countries in the world. You would find plenty of dishes with rice and coconut being the key ingredients. Dont miss out wonderful Lankan dishes like Kottu, Happer and Kevum. Happycow lists 39 veg-friendly restaurants in Sri Lanka but you will find plenty more there.

Hoppers(appa) made from coconut milk and rice

Hoppers(appa) made from coconut milk and rice

  1. South Korea

South Korea is often considered as a paradise for meat lovers. But you will find plenty of options for vegetarians as well. The best option is to go for a vegetarian restaurant like Loving Hut which has vegan chains all over the country. Vegeterian dishes are also common in South Korean menu but its best to double check if there’s meat in any of the specified menu. Happy has listed 102 veg-friendly restaurants in South Korea. Don’t miss out wonderful South Korean dishes like Kimchi – fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables, Bibimbap (mixed rice) and Somandu (dumplings) made solely from vegetables.

  1. Singapore:

Singapore has been considered as one of the best city attractions in Asia by many travelers. It is often associated with the words safe, clean, green and efficient. Traveling in Singapore as a vegetarian is not a problem. Almost every food court or stall will have an Indian stall with more than one vegetarian option. Apart from Indian, you can also find Japanese, Malay and Mediterranean vegetarian dishes. Happy Cow has listed 362 vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the country.

Indian Rojtak, a popular dish

Indian Rojtak, a popular dish

  1. Jordan

Situated in Middle east, Jordan is often considered as a safe heaven in the middle of conflict. Meals in Jordan start with Mezze — an array of appetizers followed by a main course. As most of the main course are meat-based, mezze dishes like Taboon(bread), Tabbouleh (salads), hummus (Dips), falafel and gourmet can make an excellent meal for vegetarians.

Tabbouleh (salads)

Tabbouleh (salads)

Source: Travel Helpr