Locals are happy as tourists return to RaraLocal hoteliers, boat operators and horse riders are excited to see tourists returning after a long, Covid-induced lull.
Raj Bahadur Shahi
Ratna Singh Rokaya, who operates a homestay in Rara in mid-western Nepal, is busy dusting the rooms and managing food these days.
His Majhaghatta Homestay has started getting bookings from visitors after seven months.
“New bookings are coming,” said Rokaya.
Several other locals engaged in the tourism business such as hoteliers, boat operators and horse riders are excited to see tourists returning to Rara, the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the Nepal Himalayas.
Every year, the number of tourists in the region tapers off when the four-month-long [June-September] monsoon starts. Then the winter keeps them away from November to February.
The number of tourists is almost zero during these periods.
The number of domestic and international tourists in Rara starts picking up when the spring begins. The spring brings warm temperatures, a clear sky, and the blooming of Rhododendrons along the rugged mountains of Mugu.
“A group of 11 Italian tourists visited Rara a week ago,” said Bishow Babu Shrestha, conservation officer of the Rara National Park. “Around a hundred more foreigners have booked hotels to visit Rara this month.”
According to the park officials, Rara has been receiving around 30 visitors who come via air route in Talcha. About 50 tourists enter the area via the surface route.
The number of tourists coming by motor vehicle has been increasing too.
The influx of tourists has led to a rebound in the local economy after it was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic for a long time.
Gorkha Rokaya, a local horse keeper, is happy to see tourists returning.
He said that the increased tourism activities will provide them with jobs.
Normally, he provides horseback rides to visitors.
“I currently serve up to 15 tourists a day. These days, I earn up to Rs1,000 a day,” said Rokaya.
An eco-resort has been established in Murmatop to cater to the growing number of tourists this year.
Since the resort came into operation, tourists have started visiting Murmatop to observe the mountains and local settlements.
“We have set up the well-facilitated resort to facilitate tourists and provide them the opportunity to observe mountain ranges,” said Devi Krishna Rokaya, a local tourism entrepreneur.
According to him, tourists can enjoy fishing in the lake.
The tourism entrepreneurs are also coordinating with several travel agencies, trade and commerce associations and local bodies to bring in the maximum number of tourists to Rara via the surface and air routes this spring.
The airline companies like Sita, Tara, Summit and Nepal Airlines have started regular flights from Nepalgunj airport, following the rise in the number of visitors' numbers.
To attract tourists by offering trekking routes, tourism entrepreneurs and the local government have initiated the development of the Khaptad-Rala-Dolphu-Shey Phoksundo trekking route.
But due to a lack of budget, the project remained unfinished.
The government has already finished the demarcation of the trail, but the construction hasn’t yet started.
Local traders say the trail was initiated to extend the stay of visitors by connecting the Rara National Park with Khaptad National Park and the Shey Phoksundo lake.