HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
NEW DELHI: With the inauguration of Visit Nepal Year 2011 only a week away‚ Nepali tourism entrepreneurs‚ selling Nepal as an attractive tourist destinations in the Indian capital‚ are yet be enthused about the potential benefits the year could bring to them.
Director of Nepal Tourism Services‚ Lal Sodari‚ does not believe that the new year will be above the ordinary. Sodari had initially hoped to increase his business at least by 30 per cent during VNY 2011.
“Nepal Tourism Board distributed some pamphlets in Delhi about the VNY 2011‚ but hardly anybody has made inquiries‚” Sodari said. These days‚ many vacationers choose Malaysia‚ Singapore or Thailand for short visits – particularly for 3-4 nights – as packages for these destinations are cheaper than those for Nepal.
Kabi Karki – who has been sending tourists to different parts of Nepal thorough his company Himalaya Travels and Treks – has not even mentioned about the tourism year in his promotional leaflets.
“We cannot guarantee the tourists that there will not be strikes. The situation in Nepal is still volatile. Therefore‚ we do not want to take the risk‚” Karki said.
He has been advertising about Kailash Mansarobar instead. According to Karki‚ the route is relatively free from strikes and other manmade disturbances. Karki said the government of Nepal needed to revoke its current practice of charging foreigners more money compared to Nepali nationals.
“Foreign tourists‚ especially from this part of the region‚ should not be compelled to pay more than their Nepali counterparts‚” Karki said.
Kedar Bahadur Karki‚ Economic Minister at the Nepalese Embassy in Delhi‚ said Nepal’s failure to expand tourism infrastructure and create new tourism sites along with lack of hotels and air connectivity issues could prove to be major bottlenecks in achieving the ambitious target of serving one million tourists.
Nepal and India signed an aviation agreement last year increasing the weekly seats available for flights to major metropolitan cities from 6‚000 to 30‚000 per week. Some new air points were also added in both the countries.
Taking the advantage of the new opportunity‚ India’s Spicejet and Kingfisher airlines have already resumed their service on the Delhi-Kathmandu route‚ but Nepali airlines have not tapped into other routes.
Adhikari went on to say that Nepal also needs to upgrade regional airports in order to attract a large number of tourists.