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Indian visitors avoiding Pokhara due to strikes

- LAL PRASAD SHARMA, POKHARA

Sep 3, 2015-

Pokhara used to get tourists even during the rainy season as the lakeside city was a popular destination among Indian visitors. However, since the April 25 earthquake and subsequent strikes in various parts of the country, vacationers from India have been discouraged from coming to the famous tourist city which has hit the industry hard.

A few years ago, tourism entrepreneurs here used to call the monsoon period the off season as tourists would not come during the period. However, an increased flow of tourists, particularly from India, even during the rainy period was keep the tourism industry busy. So, they started calling the period low season instead of off season. As a result, a message was conveyed across the world that Pokhara was a suitable place to visit during all seasons.

However, the April 25 earthquake and recent strikes have changed the scenario. These events discouraged visitors from India from coming here. Hari Sharma, proprietor of the Pokhara Village Resort at Hallanchowk, said that he sees hardly any Indian tourists in the city nowadays.  

Many Indian tourists left Pokhara after the massive earthquake. But a big tourism promotion campaign in India by local entrepreneurs has attracted some Indian tourists here in recent days. The entrepreneurs have been complaining that the situation has worsened since the political parties and groups started to organize strikes.

Bachchuram Tiwari, proprietor of Hotel Bajra Inn, said that Indian tourists had cancelled hotel booking en masse until January following the recent strikes. “Reservations are virtually zero,” he said.

According to entrepreneurs, Indian tourists come here mostly for trekking, rafting, bungee jumping, zip-flying, paragliding and other adventure sports. A number of them used to visit Muktinath for religious purposes. There are also those who come here for their honeymoon. Many Indian tourists believe that taking a bath in the Kali Gandaki washes away all their sins, according to entrepreneurs here.

It is not sure how many Indian tourists visit the lakeside city annually, but it is estimated that 35-40 percent of the total visitors are Indians, according to tourism entrepreneurs here. They said that a large number of tourists used to come here overland by bus, and vehicles bearing Indian number plates used to be seen in large numbers even during the rainy season. “Those using the land route for visiting Nepal have not been able to come due to the long-running banda in the Tarai region,” said a tourism entrepreneur.

Tourist arrivals to Jhapa plunge

KAKKARBHITTA: Hotel and other tourism industries have suffered a blow as tourists are not coming due to prolonged strikes and protests in various part of the country, particularly in the Tarai belt.

According to the Travel Association, Jhapa, the tourism sector here has been badly affected with tourists not visiting the district. “Not even a single tourist has arrived as a result of the ongoing strike,” said Netra Karki, president of the association.

There are more than a hundred travel agencies operating in Jhapa, and they handle mostly Indian tourists who arrive through the Kakkarbhitta route. Entrepreneurs said that Jhapa receives tourists mostly from the Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim, and cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

According to Karki, Indian media coverage of Nepal’s strikes in a bad light has discouraged many would-be Indian visitors from coming here. Lalit Tamang, president of the Hoteliers’ Association, Mechinagar, said that business had been heavily affected due to the ongoing strike. “Most of the hotel rooms here are lying vacant,” he complained, adding that the sector was incurring losses amounting to hundreds of thousands of rupees daily.

The Hotel and Tourist Association has appealed to the protestors to come to a conclusion regarding the situation.

After the earthquake, the ongoing strikes in the Tarai and other parts of the country have emerged as another blow to the country’s tourism industry.

According to the Immigration Office, Kakkarbhitta, the number of tourists coming through the route has dwindled significantly. Only 145 tourists entered Nepal through this route in August, according to Ramesh Khadka, an official at the Immigration Office.

Published: 03-09-2015 08:32

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