Thumbs up for new Pokhara airport

Rup Narayan Dhakal

Pokhara, January 15

The decision to construct a regional-level airport in Pokhara has brought tremendous relief to tourism entrepreneurs of the area. The cabinet meet on last Monday took the decision to construct a regional-level airport at four places including Pokhara and had decided to call on private parties to invest in the project.

"This is a matter to rejoice here," said Kali Bahadur Adhikari, member of the Nepal Tourism Board and proprietor of Hotel Snowland. He said, "Construction of a regional-level airport would change the face of Pokhara and would be an important input for the development of western Nepal."

Basu Dev Tripathi, chairman of the Nepal Association of Travel Agents (NATA), Gandaki Chapter, was also positive that construction of the airport would bring in a positive change.

He said, "Until now, Pokhara was a place renowned as a visiting place. If the airport is constructed, Pokhara would also become a popular holiday destination. It would increase the staying period of the tourists."

The new airport would attract not only tourists from India but also from south Asia and Europe, said Tika Ram Sapkota, chief of Trekking Agents Association of Nepal, Western Chapter. "Tourists who come to Kathmandu, go to Pokhara to escape the rising pollution," Sapkota, also the general manager of Fuji Yama Treks and Expeditions Pvt Ltd, added.

Dambar Bahadur KC of Pokhara Tourism Forum also said that the new airport would definitely have a positive impact on tourism entrepreneurs and the whole area.

According to Sagar Pradhan, chief of Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, the Pokhara Sub Metropolis has already acquired 3,106 ropanis of land from VDCs 14, 15 and 18 for the construction of an airport on BS 2032.

Though compensation for the acquired land was given then, habitation on the land still continues.

Only small Avro planes could land in the present airport of Pokhara, as the airport is too narrow, Pradhan added. This was the reason for the demand for a new airport by tourism entrepreneurs and locals of Pokhara.

Pradhan further said that the present airport is located on a north-south direction, which creates hindrance while landing. Planes have to circle nearby hills prior to landing. The future airport would be constructed in a east-west direction and then the hills would not be a problem while landing.

The proposed airport would be able accommodate bigger planes like jets, even during nights. The existing airport also leads to noise pollution as it is near the market area. Pradhan further informed that the proposed airport would be spread over an area of 1.02 sq km.

Kali Bahadur Adhikari, member of Nepal Tourism Board, said that residents of the capital have been against construction of a new airport in Pokhara supposing that it would reduce tourist flow to Kathmandu. But now, no level of opposition would work and construction of the new airport is going to begin soon."

According to tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara, if a new airport is constructed, bigger planes

with more tourists would land, increasing the number of trekkers in the famous Annapurna trekking route.

The current four-month long visa period would be changed to five-months. Not only lakeside but also other beautiful places in Pokhara can become famous.