Blockade scares away tourists

Pokhara, March 18:

The Maoists’ blockade, that was called just as the tourist season began, is sure to hurt the tourism industry here badly.

Tourism entrepreneurs informed that only a negligible number of tourists arrived at Pokhara from Kathmandu and other points due to obstructions placed by Maoists on different highways.

Chairman of Regional Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), Laxmi Bahadur Bhattarai said all the

bookings have been cancelled and there have been no new bookings in the hotels here. March, April and May are considered to make up the real tourist season. The beginning of the season was promising in terms of tourist arrival, but now we are disappointed, tourism entrepreneurs complained.

Most tourists wanting to visit Pokhara are stuck in Kathmandu, general secretary of Western Regional Chapter of Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN), Arjun Kumar Dahal said. He added that tourists scheduled to return from Pokhara are also stuck in Pokhara due to the halt in transportation services.

Dahal informed that a team of 32 Israeli tourists who were scheduled to visit Pokhara for a trek in the Annapurna area are now preparing to go to Bangkok. Chairman of western regional chapter of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Hari Sharma told The Himalayan Times that daily four to five tourist buses operate on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route carrying tourists to and from Pokhara. He added that these tourists have stopped and there have been no new bookings due to the blockade in Nepal.

In charge of Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Laxman Prasad Khanal said the number of tourists trekking in Annapurna area has been reduced to four dozens daily whereas it used to be around 100.

Maoists had torched a Sajha bus at Nayan Pul on Bhupi Sherchan Highway three days ago because of which tourists are facing difficulty to go to Nayan Pul for trekking in the Annapurna region, Shiva Bhakta Thapa of Nepal Trekking Travels said.

Also, around 900 tourist guides and porters have been affected due to the drop in the arrival of tourists.