Kathmandu, April 16: Happy news for tourists coming here and local hoteliers. A new locally-owned and operated travel booking portal — www.kathmanduhotel-link.com — has been launched for the benefit of both.
It is the 156th locally managed destination website brought to the public by whl.travel, a global grassroots travel network catering to independent and responsible travelers. The website is also the first of two currently planned for Nepal and the 14th travel portal in South Asia in addition to others in India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The portal is expected to give exposure to Kathmandu-based small and medium tourism operators in the global e-marketplace. “This initiation of connecting local hoteliers to the international market will aid in the promotion of Nepal’s beautiful destinations and unique products,” Prachanda Man Shrestha, the CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) said.
Prasiddha Bahadur Panday, president of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) also agreed. “We are confident that the launching of this portal will add further momentum to the Nepali tourism sector and provide necessary facilitation to
both accommodation/service seekers and providers,” he said.
Outdoor Himalayan Treks (OHT) has joined whl.travel as its local partner in Nepal with full responsibility for the website.
International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, played a catalytic role in bringing together whl.travel and the Nepal tourism
industry.
The development of www.kathmanduhotel-link.com received support from IFC Advisory Services in South Asia — the South Asia Enterprise Development Facility — co-funded by the United Kingdom’s DFID, European Union, CIDA (Canada) and the governments of Norway and the Netherlands.
IFC has supported similar whl.travel undertakings in Cape Verde, Madagascar, Senegal, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania and Vietnam.
Per Kjellerhaug, IFC South Asia regional manager, said, “Through its support for this
project, IFC will help create business opportunities for Nepal, extend support to local operators and enhance income and employment opportunities.”
As of mid-April, whl.travel spans 159 destinations in
74 countries on five continents, with a particular emphasis on developing and emerging markets. By
the end of 2009, further expansion will reach an additional 100 destinations.
Unique to whl.travel is its franchise model. The whl.travel’s local partners, called marketplace operators (MPOs), serve as
vital on-site lifelines to travellers looking for an often missing personal touch
in online services.
The MPOs also espouse values fundamental to the whl.travel vision — care for their destinations’ cultural and environmental sustainability.
This is made evident by attention to and promotion of the kinds of fun and ethical travel experiences that, until recently, have been largely incidental to travel planning. Now, however, they are increasingly at the core of
decisions made by conscientious travellers.
“I am happy at the launch of the site,” said whl.travel CEO Len Cordiner.