Pokhara plans New Year festThe April 25 earthquake and political uncertainty in the country might have kept tourists away from Pokhara, but an increase in domestic visitors since last week has buoyed the lakeside city.
The April 25 earthquake and political uncertainty in the country might have kept tourists away from Pokhara, but an increase in domestic visitors since last week has buoyed the lakeside city.
For the last six months, Pokhara had been wearing a deserted look following a series of misfortunes despite being Nepal’s second most popular tourist destination. However, the adventure tourism hub is set to rock with a five-day street festival.
The 17th Street Festival that begins on December 28 to welcome the New Year 2016 is expected to keep the city’s hotels and other tourist establishments packed through the week.
Travel trade entrepreneurs said that hordes of domestic tourists had started arriving in Pokhara to join the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations. The rush has boosted the room occupancy of the hotels in the lakeside city. “Pokhara has been gradually recovering from the impacts of the earthquake and fuel shortage triggered by India’s trade embargo against Nepal. The room occupancy rate has started to increase again,” said Sundar Kumar Shrestha, proprietor of the Hotel Kantipur.
Normally, the foreign tourists in Nepal start returning to their countries from mid-December to celebrate Christmas and New Year with their family and friends. So the period is considered to be an off season for tourism in Nepal.
The street festival was initiated 17 years ago by Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal (Reban) Pokhara in a bid to entice tourists to stay longer during this off season.
“We have decided to continue the event this year despite the hardships as it has become one of the brand products of Pokhara’s tourism,” said Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai, president of Reban. “We hope to host a large number of domestic visitors this year.”
During the event, there will be a 3-km-long chain of restaurants serving diners on the street. Various cultural programmes have been planned to entertain visitors throughout the night.
Bharat Raj Parajuli, president of Hotel Association Nepal, Western Region Chapter, said that hotels had been receiving a stream of inquiries from potential domestic visitors even though reservations were lower than in previous years. “The inquiry trend shows that the occupancy rate will be good.”
Pokhara expects to host fewer Indian tourists this year as transportation services have been down due to the trade embargo.
Meanwhile, hotels and restaurants have announced discounts to add to the thrill. Restaurants will be providing a 15 percent discount while hotels have announced a 30 percent discount on the room charge. There are nearly 400 tourist-standard hotels offering 16,000 room nights besides 100 restaurants in Pokhara. Entrepreneurs expect arrivals to reach 300,000 during the street festival.