Poor road condition hits Chitwan tourism

- BIMAL KHATIWADA, CHITWAN

Jul 21, 2017-

Tourism enterprises in Chitwan are experiencing a sharp decline in business as the landslide that struck Narayanghat-Mugling highway last week continues to pose a problem. 

Popular tourist destinations like Shaura, Meghauli, Patihani and Kashara are almost vacant. 

Tourists are starting to cancel their Chitwan tour plan to and are going to other tourist hotspots like Pokhara and Bandipur instead. This has gotten hotel entrepreneurs in the district concerned as bookings are being cancelled at an alarming rate.

 “Our business is seriously affected by the condition of the road,” said Shyam Kaji Mahat, operator of Hotel Central Park situated at Shaura, “As the road to Chitwan was not safe we asked the tourists to return back from Mugling.” 

According to Mahat, there was a landslide at the Narayanghat-Mugling highway a week back and tourists on the way to Chitwan got caught in the resulting aftermath. “They were stuck in an ardous jam for more than 7 hours without food and water. Since the landslide was not cleared, they diverted to Pokhara,” said Mahat, “Around 60 Indian tourists left for Pokhara as an alternative.” 

Mahat’s hotel has a capacity of 46 rooms but at the moment, all of them are vacant. “Generally, during this period, Indian, Chinese and domestic tourists visit Shaura,” said Mahat. 

Mahat is not the only person facing this problem. More than 100 hotel owners of Shaura are having similar problems. The industry that was providing employment to 2,000 people is on verge of collapse. “Although, this is not a major season for tourist inflow, we used to have 25 to 50 percent occupancy in previous years,” said Suman Ghimire, president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) Chitwan Chapter. 

Tourism entrepreneurs have warned that adventure seekers may give the go-by to the popular jungle safari destination of Chitwan, if the road condition does not improved. The so-called golden triangle tour consisting of Chitwan, Pokhara and Lumbini is a widely popular circuit among sightseers in Nepal, and travel traders are worried that one of the components could be tossed out of tour packages due to the disastrous condition of the highway linking the destination.

Potential tourists are not responding to Chitwan packages at any international travel mart, and it has raised concerns that the safari destination might lose its competitiveness. Entrepreneurs are worried because once a destination is removed from tour packages, it may take a long time for it to be reinstated. According to the hoteliers, operating flights between Chitwan and Pokhara could be an option to provide another access route. Traditionally, trekkers returning from the Annapurna Circuit continue on to Chitwan to enjoy a jungle safari.

Published: 21-07-2017 08:24

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