Pokhara acts to shake off earthquake blues

Tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara have launched discount offers in a bid to revitalize the industry which took a severe beating after the earthquake. The travel traders have gone on a publicity spree spreading the message that the lakeside city is completely safe.

They have backed up their promotional campaign with price cuts. Hoteliers have announced discounts of up to 50 percent on the room tariff. Prices have been slashed in a dozen sightseeing destinations. Restaurateurs have announced a 20 percent discount and trekking packages have become 30 percent cheaper.

Similarly, visitors can get a 20 percent discount on tourist bus fares and reserved vehicles, 20 percent discount on trekking gear and garments and 15 percent discount on paragliding and ultra light flights.

According to tourism entrepreneurs, they have rolled out discount schemes as the number of tourists has gone down drastically even though there was no significant impact in Pokhara from the earthquake.

“The offers are valid at all the hotels and restaurants affiliated with the association,” said Bharat Raj Parajuli, president of the Western Development Region Hotel Association.

“We have requested hotels which are not affiliated with us to offer discounts too.”

He added that since a significant investment had been made in the hotels in Pokhara , there was a need to make a common attempt to protect it. Parajuli said that the government should come up with a special programme to protect the sector which provides jobs to thousands of people.

Likewise, Ganesh Bahadur Bhattarai, coordinator of the Pokhara Tourism Revitalization Committee, said that spreading the message that Pokhara is a safe destination was the central focus for them at this time.

Biplav Poudel, advisor to the association, said that they were hopeful about the revival of the tourism industry which has remained sluggish after the earthquake. “We aim to hold awareness campaigns in several places including bordering towns in China and India,” Poudel added.

“We also aim to meet ministers and bureaucrats related with finance and tourism, among others, and the ambassadors of India and China to discuss ways to revive Pokhara ’s tourism,” he said.
Report by Lal Prasad Sharma