Nepali Times: Things look awfully quiet here in Jomsom.
Vinaya K Singh: When we set up Jomsom Mountain Resort here in 2000, the flow of tourists was very good. The place sold itself. Now, it's slowed down for reasons obvious to everyone. We have been looking at how to increase visitors to Jomsom again. Cosmic Air helped us with daily flights and other agencies are also promoting Jomsom. The profit isn't for us only but also for the local economy here. But the drop in arrivals has made even day-to-day operations difficult.
But Jomsom looks perfectly peaceful.
Yes, it is the bandas and blockades in Pokhara and Kathmandu that affect the travel plans of potential tourists. Trekkers face problems in Pokhara and turn back. They don't want to come all the way here in case they get stuck. Mustang is a Maoist-free area and we have to spread the word about it.
What about domestic tourism?
Since we weren't able to get tourists from abroad to visit Nepal, we began promoting local tourism. We are targeting Nepalis with packages for new year, Muktinath Darshan and other festivals. From Kathmandu to Pokhara and on to Muktinath is a popular package.
What kind of occupancy rate do you have these days?
We are running on five or six percent but we want to at least double that with special packages and promotions in tie-ups with airlines. The new year Jomsom Jamming was an example of fun events to bring people up here to sample the great scenery and we hope that once they come, they will keep coming. We have also launched campaigns in Germany, Singapore and India.
Do you at least break even?
I don't think it is a big secret that everyone here is running at a loss. We are barely able to stay afloat. The packages are priced at minimum profit, so you need the numbers to be able to generate revenue.
What would help turn things around?
Well, first we need flights that are regular and the frequency of flights have to be increased. Once the road to Jomsom is finished traffic will automatically rise. The potential of Jomsom being the next destination after Pokhara is real. Also, we need to spread the word about what a great destination Jomsom is, there is great accommodation and you don't really have to rough it. Get on the next flight to Jomsom.