Print Edition - 2014-12-05 | MONEY
Bardia sees less foreign tourists, more Nepalis
Dec 4, 2014-
Foreign tourist arrivals to Bardia National Park have dropped during the peak season due to lack of infrastructure and promotional activities. However, an increase in the number of domestic safari goers has kept the park busy.
The park is the largest national park and wilderness area in the Tarai and is famous as a wildlife watching destination. However, due to poor infrastructure like roads and inadequate publicity, it
has not been able to attract adventure lovers in the expected numbers. “It’s difficult to reach the park. And when visitors do come here, they cannot get the required facilities. As a result, Bardia has not been able to attract foreigners,” said Ashok Kumar Bhandari, assistant conservation officer at the park.
The park received 3,606 visitors in the last six months. Of them, 1,557 were from third countries, 90 from Saarc countries and the rest were domestic visitors. Last year, 12,974 foreigners visited the park for jungle safari, elephant ride and canoeing.
Despite a drop in foreign tourist movement during the prime season which lasts from November to December, the number of domestic visitors has increased significantly, said Bhandari. “However, we have been expecting a rise in foreign arrivals too as the season is still not over.”
The period from mid-September to mid-December is peak tourist season in Nepal with 35 percent of the total tourist arrivals happening during this time. Foreign arrivals start to thin after mid-December as vacationers stay home to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays in their own countries.
According to travel trade entrepreneurs, a foreign tourist spends three-seven days in Bardia, while the length of stay of domestic visitors is four-five days. Since November, the park has been receiving around 100 Nepali visitors daily. Their number increases to 200 daily during public holidays.
Ram Kaji Thapa, proprietor of Bardia Tiger Resort, said improved domestic tourist movement had been compensating for the slump in foreign arrivals this season. According to him, there has been a rise in seminars and meetings in Bardia that has kept most of the resorts busy.
As a growing number of locals are operating home stay in the area, there is a need for effective promotion of these new facilities, the operators said. “Travel trade entrepreneurs should focus on creating packages to promote home stay to increase visitor numbers,” said Mohan Chaudhary, operator of Tharu Home Stay.
He added that there was an urgent need to blacktop the Ambassa road on the East-West Highway that leads to the park and construct a bridge at Orahai for the convenience of travellers. “These facilities will increase arrivals to some extent.”
Bardia National Park was established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park. It covers an area of 968 sq km and is the largest national park in Nepal’s Tarai, adjoining the eastern bank of the Karnali River and intersected by the Babai River in Bardia district.
The park is home to 53 mammals including rhinoceros, wild elephant, Bengal tiger, swamp deer and the Gangetic dolphin and boasts 407 bird species.
Published: 05-12-2014 09:37