Nepal | May 20, 2019

Ski tourism: Make the most of it

Pratap Adhikari

Government, mountaineering and other sectors need to work together and realize the vision to open a new chapter in adventure tourism. As it supports economic growth of the country, investment in ski-tourism is need of the hour

Ski. Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

The history of modern skiing began in the eighteenth century. Skis were regularly conducted by Scandinavian farmers, hunters and warriors throughout the Middle Ages. The present form of skiing started from 1990 by Elan and Kneissl after building the prototypes of deep-side-cut-shaped skis. Recreational Skiing, Freestyle Skiing and Back Country are the three major types of skiing. Skiing is the sport of sliding down snow-covered hills on ski equipment with fixed-heel bindings. It is commonly known as downhill skiing due to the sliding down from top of hills. Nowadays, skiing is popular for both sport and tourism sectors all over the world.

As an adventurous sport skiing is also popular in the field of tourism. Ski-tourism has become a part of adventure tourism as ski-mountaineering and ski-trekking. Climbing the mountain peak on foot and coming down by skiing is a good way to get thrills and adventure. For professional skiers, there is no thrill beyond skiing off-piste in the Himalayas. Nobody can describe in words the adventure of skiing on high altitude.

While Japan, South Korea, China and other Asian countries have been investing more on ski-tourism lately, Nepal has a lot of potential for ski-tourism as the country is home to numerous snow-capped mountains. Out of 14 eight thousand high mountains across the globe, eight are situated in Nepal. Geographically and physically, Nepal is the best destination for high altitude ski-mountaineering. Different researches have already shown that Nepal can be the leader of high altitude skiing in the world.

If we run ski-trekking and ski-mountaineering packages for foreigners, it will certainly be a good way to make Nepal an evergreen tourist destination. Ski-tourists and fans may visit Nepal to get thrills from adventurous skiing and mountaineering throughout the tourist season. In the present context, trekking packages mainly run through October, November and December. Most of the tourists visit Nepal in these three months. If we run such ski packages after December it will promote winter tourism from December to April. Because of the snowing on trekking areas, these four months will be popular for skiing. Thus, ski-trekking and ski-mountaineering could play a big role in enticing tourists in the off-season trekking time. It is good for the country’s trekking and mountaineering guides, hotels, local community, businesses and various  economic sectors as it helps generate employment opportunities.

The main goals of skiing in Nepali context are to promote Nepal as a winter sports destination so that we can attract tourists in the winter thereby increasing revenue in the tourism sector; to encourage Nepali outdoor individuals (trekkers, guides etc.) to learn skiing and then choose it either as a hobby or a profession, and it can lead to internal tourism as well in the winter; to integrate with locals by experiencing mountain culture by skiing in high valleys as well as to teach local kids skiing to create awareness of the possibilities that may be there.

Stakeholders like Nepal Mountain Academy, Himalayan Ski Trek, researchers and some international ski instructors have now discovered that Mera peak, Manaslu, Dhawalagiri, Thorong La Pass, Dhorpatan and Langtang’s Kyanjin Gompa are the best destinations for skiing in Nepal. Practically, it is proved that there are many areas where we can ski easily in the winter season. The areas witnessing snowfall have provided all the chances to ski. So it is best to open skiing opportunities after December in Nepal. Nepal can make ski packages for the high altitude areas with enough snowfalls and flat slop areas that can be snow zones.

Medically it is proved that skiing is good for health. A good flexible body is going to be a huge benefit by  skiing. Skiing will help to avoid muscle strains and sprains, according to medical practitioners. As a lot of work in downhill skiing relies on the legs, it is important to realize that the legs can get a great workout during this sport. Stability is the key when skiing downhill, and the leg muscles are constantly making adjustments to balance in order to stay upright.

Downhill skiing is a great all-round way to keep both the body and the mind healthy. It could provide a sort of therapy to the youngsters to get rid of boredom. There is a huge investment for skiing in European and American countries. Their governments are investing in infrastructure like hotels, transportation, training schools and many other sectors to promote ski-tourism.

They are also making artificial ski-stadiums for the summer season and for beginners to learn skiing. It is not surprising that Dubai has an artificial ski stadium. Though Dubai is popularly known as a golf country, and there is no source of snow, and even water,  they made artificial stadiums to meet the desire of visitors to ski on the snow. In Nepal, skiing fans and enthusiasts are increasing day by day. So it’s time to wake up and do something to promote Nepal as the best high altitude ski destination in the world.

Government, mountaineering sector and other private sectors need to work together and realize the vision to open a new chapter in adventure tourism. As it supports the economic growth of the country, investment in ski- tourism is the need of hour.

 


A version of this article appears in print on January 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


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