Nepali Times
My Two Paisa
Jaun hai Pokhara



It is April-end and Pokhara is bustling with activity. Without a booking, you will be lucky to find a room even in a two-star hotel. The restaurants on Lakeside are busy, and the sky above Sarangkot is dotted with colourful paragliders every morning. Ultralights buzz the Peace Pagoda, and it is rush hour on Jomsom flights. Tourism and businesses are hopeful, exploring new investments.

Pokhara survived the insurgency, political instability and frequent bandas. With politics progressing favourably now, tourism has rebounded and businesses have picked up. Pokhara is cashing in not just as a base camp for trekkers to the Annapurnas and an appendage to Kathmandu, but is inventing new ways of becoming an internationally-recognised adventure destination on its own.

Few years ago, the city used to be closed during off seasons, but now it is a popular stop all year through for trekkers, honeymooners and for refugees from the capital who want a quick getaway. Chinese, Indian and local tourists have filled in the gaps. In fact, room occupancy by domestic travellers grew by 15 per cent this year, increasing the share of domestic tourism to 40 per cent. Pokhara has also seen a surge in free individual travellers (FITs), who usually spend more and stay longer than group travellers. Yoga and meditation tourism is also growing.
The scenic city is selling not just nature's offerings, but also developing into a health and education hub for the country. Banking and real estate industries have also recovered from the flight of Gurkha families and is taking off, reflecting the optimism in the market.

The picture looks rosy. But ask any businessman in Pokhara and the common complaint is that Kathmandu has done absolutely nothing to support Pokhara's development. The pot-holed highway that welcomes travellers into Pokhara is a testament to the lack of concern showed by the central government towards the city's progress. The roads are bumpy too. There has hardly been any investment in infrastructure to push Pokhara forward. Plans for a new airport are finally taking shape after languishing for 35 years. Problems of water scarcity and loadshedding plague businesses, increasing their overheads by over 50 per cent.

New investors are nervous, as in the case of the paragliding industry which even after 13 years is not governed by specific regulations. Although the security situation has improved, tourism entrepreneurs are not confident enough to venture too far from Lakeside. "The municipality doesn't even regularly come to collect garbage," says one hotelier. "It is useless to expect anything else from them. The government exists only to collect taxes."

So the private sector is stepping forward. The "Jaun Hai Pokhara" campaign was successful in boosting domestic tourism. Following its lead, tourism entrepreneurs started "Chaliye Pokhara" campaign in Indian cities this year. Hoteliers now want Lakeside to be open 24 hours.

The central government can play an important role in easing operations for businesses and improving the investment environment. With over 300,000 tourists visiting Pokhara every year and development in other sectors, the city makes a significant contribution to the country's economy. Pokhara has been the poster city for Nepal's tourism for long. It's payback time.

Read also:
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Dangerous minds, ANURAG ACHARYA
A few ruthless leaders must not jeopardise democracy just to fulfill their personal ambitions and greed

Finally, a new airport?

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Rainbow nation

Hanging in the balance

Fuel for thought

Amphibian mountain flights

Coming soon: Zip line

By the water

Fusion living

See also:
Pokhara in the monsoon
There is optimism about tourism in the lake city

Pokhara as a sports hub, RAMESH POUDEL in POKHARA
The town's potential for sports tourism is finally being realised

Gross national happiness in Pokhara, CK LAL
Equality in politics and equity in economics are two sides of the same coin

1. Dig Bahadur Tamang

I returned  to Nepal, recently  after 20 years staying in the USA, the moment Qatar's flight 351 was about landing from Doha  Nepal around 11 AM local time in Tribhuvan International Airport, I saw pot hole in the corner of International Airport from the window of my seats. When I saw it I felty Nepal's situation is worst than which  we had prior 1990.

The welcome doors and whole building could have been painted with nice color by the Airport Authorities, and Airport bathrooms can be kept neat and clean with decent way as well as other countries international Airports, after long flight everybody would like to go to the bathroom for nature's call and refreshmen, when someone is into horrible and stinky toilet what would that person think about the image of our government or airport authorities. Who ask to not to do such as necessary task, I truly felt this is lack of responsibility from the government.  Road from Airport to the City could have  maintained regularly and  they could have planted green trees and grass both side of the Road, it would look beautiful,  Metropolitan City's authorities could have hided the all the darts from the Roads daily basis.


2. RR
Nepali Times lai dherai dherai dhanyabaad, kathmandu bahira ko shahar ko prachar prasar gardinu bhayeko ma. Pokhara lai thulo paryatakiya ra arthikh kendra banauna paye sampurna Nepal lai nai dherai raamro hune thiyo. aba arko issue haru ma pani yestai kathmandu bahira ka raamra raamra thau haru ko baare padhna paine cha bhanne asha garda chau. 

3. tsering tsering
" The govt. exist only to collect tax".  I say kick this govt. out. Kick the govt. employees out of Pokhara . Let the citizens of Pokhara and its busniness leaders provide the basic needs. The govt. has no money, the money belongs to people. Inept planners in Kathmandu are busy taking bribes each day.  Pokahara should just follow the example of Dharan.  Screw the govt. in Kathmandu, they can go rot in hell.   

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)