Tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara have started a campaign to revive tourism industry that was shattered after the April 25 Great Earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.
They have the formed “ Pokhara Tourism Revival Committee” and formulated short- and long-term plans.
Since the earthquake, there has a massive exodus of foreign tourists from the country, while domestic tourists have refrained from travelling.
“We have initiated the campaign to restore the flow of tourists in Pokhara to pre-quake levels,” said Ganesh Bahadur Bhattarai, coordinator of the committee. “We will first study the impact of the earthquake in the tourism sector and prepare a plan for the future.”
The entrepreneurs, in coordination with the Nepal Tourism Board Pokhara and Tourism Office Pokhara , have formed eight sub-committees under the main committee. They include the panels looking after sales and marketing, promotion, public relations, financial recovery, health, rescue, relief and recovery.
“My sub-committee will carry out various promotional activities to convince the visitors that our destinations are safe,” said Biplav Poudel, coordinator of the financial recovery sub-committee. “Necessary efforts will be made to ensure that the tourism destinations and investment are saved.”
According to the entrepreneurs, the committee will introduce schemes with various attractive discounts and carry out publicity campaigns. It will also work on how the save industry from similar disasters in the future with an awareness campaign.
They plan to mount pressure on constructing regional international airport in Pokhara and spread the message through Non-Resident Nepali Association and Nepali embassies abroad about the positive aspects of Nepal’s tourism.
The committee will join hands with the government to enable the people of the quake-affected areas to run economically beneficial business activities and work to maintain good relations between house owners and tourism entrepreneurs, according to Bhattarai.
The entrepreneurs claim they have invested around Rs 100 billion in Pokhara . They are worried about the steep decline in tourist arrivals after the earthquakes. The tourists have returned back home by shortening their stay and they have also cancelled future bookings.
Bharat Raj Parajuli, president of the Western Region Hotel Association, said all should be concerned about the impact of the disaster on tourism and overall economy.
The entrepreneurs say the tourist destinations are still safe and attractive and they could attract tourists. They say the Annapura Trekking Route, Pokhara , Chitwan, Lumbini, Bandipur, Tansen, Dolpa, Rara, Mugu, Karnali and Bardiya are some of the destinations that are unaffected.
“All the hotels and restaurants in Pokhara are operating as usual,” said Som Thapa, chairman of the Pokhara Tourism Council. “Various tourism activities such as trekking, jungle safari, boating, paragliding, ultra-light, side scene, hiking, jeep-liner and bungee jumping are operational.”