Paragliding yet to go commercial in Ilam despite several successful testsLack of investors, skilled manpower and legal hurdles are behind Ilam’s failure to hold a commercial flight, stakeholders say.
On Sunday, Puwamajhuwa in Ilam Municipality saw its first paragliding test flight. The test flight took off from the 2,000m high cliff of Chhelethumki and landed safely at the Thalthale sports ground—to the excitement of hundreds of locals who were at the spot. The observers the Post talked to said they hope the adventure sports would be instrumental in unleashing Puwamajhuwa’s tourism potential.
Puwamajhuwa, located 20km north from the district headquarters of Ilam, is the latest among a series of the district’s destinations to have a successful paragliding test flight. So far, Antu, Gufathumki, Kanyam and Siddhithumka have seen successful test flights. But none of these destinations has a commercial flight up and running yet.
“If Ilam is to be developed as a model paragliding hub, the focus should be on developing infrastructure and producing and training the manpower,” Sanobabu Sunuwar, operator of the Babu Adventures and the pilot of Sunday’s test flight, told the Post. “Ilam has enough potential.”
If the adventure sports were to be developed, many believe it could play as a springboard to direct tourists to the noted destinations in Ilam.
“If the adventure sports service were to take shape along with the promotion of culture, agriculture and natural beauty, Ilam can reap considerable benefits from tourism,” said Tirtha Gurung, chief of Ward No. 3 of Ilam Municipality.
The potential of adventure sports tourism was bolstered by the news of the under-construction Pokhara International Airport displacing the paragliding service there. Moreover, deputy mayor, Sushila Nembang, has promised to support to turn Ilam into a paragliding hotspot.
The test flights are bound to continue across Ilam, given its suitable geography. But the fact that not a single commercial flight has taken off yet has many doubting if such an enterprise would ever come to fruition.
Lack of finance, skilled manpower and legal hurdles are the factors behind Ilam’s failure to hold a commercial flight yet, stakeholders say.
“We haven’t been able to hold a commercial flight because there is a lack of licenced pilots,” said Ishwari Baral, a member of the operations committee of Kanyam Mountain View Paragliding, noting that his enterprise has already spent over Rs20million in acquiring the land and other logistics. “Lack of skilled manpower and increasing cost is what is keeping us from starting commercial paragliding but we are on it.”