Voters of Chitwan district want clear-cut plans to boost tourism from the candidates vying for the post of members of the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly.
Chitwan is the third major touristic destination in the country. Tourism entrepreneurs have argued that a concrete plan to boost the area’s tourism has been missing in the commitment papers of the candidates and political parties.
“We have expected that the elected representatives will address the issue this time,” pointed out Kiran Gautam, a tourism entrepreneur of Sauraha, Chitwan.
“Only if the road or air transport to Chitwan is made comfortable, more visitors will come to visit Chitwan and help boost the area’s tourism sector.”
General Secretary of Regional Hotel Association, Sauraha, Gunraj Thapaliya underlined the need for building the road to enter Sauraha from Chitrasari was itself dusty.
“We often face unofficial loadshedding, many places get inundated in monsoon and the interest rate of banks have been affecting the tourism sector continuously. Lack of proper management has only intensified the problems,” he pointed out.
He argued that the representatives elected previously, and the candidates contesting the upcoming election have failed to assure even the conservation of vegetation and wildlife in the region,”
Similarly, Dr. Biswo Poudel, ex-vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, claimed that he had a clear agenda to boost tourism sector of Chitwan. He is the candidate of the Nepali Congress for the House of Representatives (HoR) in Constituency 1 of Chitwan.
He said that during his tenure as member of the National Planning Commission, he had lobbied for budget to construct a four-lane bridge and a four-lane road from Chitrasari to Sauraha. The road from Sauraha to Kathar is also being expanded with a cycle lane,” he added.
Poudel said that he has a plan to allocate at least Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 million annually for Sauraha Urban Development Project. Similarly, CPN-UML candidate Surendra Pandey argued that he had plans for the area’s tourism development as well. Pandey is vice chairman and former finance minister.
“First, Nepalis should be encouraged to visit different places throughout a year rather than a one-week tour annually. A tourist visiting the mountains should also be attracted to the plains of the Terai. I plan to implement special plans and packages for this,” said Pandey.
Tourism entrepreneurs, however, informed that their demands and previous assurances were not addressed effectively. “We have been requesting to increase the stay period of tourists in the Chitwan National Park to three days from one day.
Locals have also demanded that they should be allowed to collect fodder inside the national park for local elephants. These demands have always fall on deaf ears,” said Thapaliya. Members of the association also underlined the need for promoting several tourism destinations, other than Sauraha, across Chitwan.
Religious site Devghat, Siraichuli’s view of sunrise and Meghauli’s view of sunset, historical fort Upperdang Gadi and Lamo Jharana, a 60-metre-high waterfall, are also in Chitwan.
At present Chitwan is home to 150 tourist standard hotels with a total capacity of more than 7,500 beds. The average occupancy of the hotels is 40-50 per cent. Until some time ago, the occupancy had fallen to 10 per cent, according to the association.