POKHARA:  Pokhara witnessed significant rise in domestic tourist footfalls this Dashain season. Popular tourist sites in and around Pokhara are brimming with foreign tourists. While Lakeside area is jampacked as usual, other tourist sites like Fewa Lake, Talbarahi and Bidhabasini temples, Davi’s Fall, World Peace Stupa, Mahendra Cave, Sarangkot and other tourist sites are also seeing huge crowd of domestic tourists.

“Hotels in Pokhara are filled with domestic tourists this season,” Bharat Raj Parajuli, president of Paschimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara, said. “Flow of domestic tourists started increasing from the 11th day of the 15-day Dashain festival. “Average room occupancy is above 80 percent. On Sunday and Monday, room occupancy reached cent percent.”

Parajuli also said that domestic tourists chipped in for local hoteliers who were seeing slowdown in foreign tourist arrivals.

Pokhara – the second tourist popular destination in the country for foreign tourists after the Kathmandu Valley – is the most popular destination among domestic tourists. “Earlier, Nepalis used to come to Pokhara to visit temples or visit their relatives. But travel bug has bitten Nepalis. Large number of Nepalis is traveling to different parts of the country as well as their foreign land with their friends and family,” added Parajuli.

Along with Pokhara, other destinations like Mustang, Gorkha, Tanahun and Bandipur, among others, are getting sizeable number of domestic tourists.

“I am here (in Pokhara) with family after such a long time. It always feels good to be here, far away from the crowd and dust of Kathmandu,” Prakash Khanal, who is holidaying in Pokhara with his family, said.

Though Pokhara tops the list of destination for family groups, Mustang and Manang have become the prime destination of younger generation.

Nishan KC, another visitor from Kathmandu, said it is necessary to travel to new places to understand what is happening outside your place. “Traveling is the best way to spend leisure time,” he added.

Local tourism entrepreneurs say tourists planning to travel to Sauraha are also heading to Pokhara this season due to bad shape of Mugling-Narayanghat road. “Though the road is open for vehicles, it is very difficult to travel through that road,” Som Bahadur Thapa, former president of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), said.

Meanwhile, number of tourist buses plying on Kathmandu-Pokhara-Kathmandu route has also increased with the increase in domestic tourist footfalls in Pokhara. More than two dozen buses are serving the route this season, up from around one and half dozen buses, according to Hari Adhikari, a sub-committee coordinator of Nepal Association of Tours and Travels Agents (NTTA) Gandaki Chapter. “The volume of foreign tourists is more or less the same. But the movement of domestic tourists has increased this year,” he added.

Myagdi benefitting from domestic tourism boom

MYAGDI:  Number of domestic tourists visiting Mustang via Myagdi has increased remarkably this festive season.

Flow of tourists to Myagdi and Mustang started increasing from the second day of Tika i.e. 11th day of the 15-day Dashain festival. Around 300 domestic tourists are coming to Mustang every day via Beni-Jomsom road section, according to Indra Singh Sherchan of Annapurna Rural Municipality-3. “The number has increased remarkably over the past three days so has the financial transactions,” he added.

Local entrepreneurs say visitors spend two to five days in Myagdi, staying in places like Beni, Galeshwor, Tiplyang, Bhurung Tatopani and Dana.

“Favorable weather this season is drawing tourists in droves,” Khagendra Tulachan, a local tourism entrepreneur, said. “Domestic tourists spend more than foreign tourists.”

–  By Santosh Pokharel for REPUBLICA

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