Nepal for all seasons
November 26 , 2012
Tourism stakeholders in Lamjung have stressed the need to explore new trekking trails in the district and promote them as an alternative to the popular Annapurna Circuit trek which is fast losing its charm with the advent of motorable roads.
Speaking at an interaction on ‘Prospects of Tourism Development in Lamjung’ in Besishahar on November 23, Bhesh Bahadur Paudel, president of Lamjung Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said efforts were underway to develop tourism master for the district. “Lamjung holds great potentials for tourism development. But we have been failing to exploit the potentials to the fullest,” Paudel said, adding, “We are planning to explore and develop new trekking trails in the district so as to retain trekkers who travel to other districts via Lamjung.”
Paudel also solicited help from Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) – the umbrella association of trekking agencies in the country – in exploration and promotion of new trails.
Responding to Paudel, TAAN General Secretary Mohan Lamsal said they were ready to provide technical and financial support in exploration of new trails in the district. “We have already been exploring new trekking trails for the Great Himalayan Trail in partnership with SNV Nepal,” Lamsal said. Stating that the Annapurna Cicruit trek has shortened with road expansion, Lamsal called upon tourism entrepreneurs in Lamjung to develop and promote new tourism products like mountain-bike tours and jeep tours.
Speaking on the occasion, TAAN President Mahendra Singh Thapa called upon the tourism stakeholders in the district to promote camping trek and home-stay trek separately. “Trekkers coming on camping trek may not like home-stay and vice versa,” Thapa said. “You are successfully promoting traditional Gurung culture through Ghalegaun-Ghanpokhara home-stay. I suggest you to promote cultural attractions of other ethnic groups and natural attractions by developing home-stay facilities in other villages.”
Locals also demanded officials of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) to open a permit counter in the district to facilitate foreign tourists. “It is impractical for foreign tourists to carry trekking permits all the way from Kathmandu and Pokhara. ACAP should open a counter here to facilitate them,” said Pramod Kumar Shrestha, former president of LCCI. “ACAP charges 100 percent surcharge on permit fee issued from its checkpoints which is impractical.” He also said lack of direct tourist bus service to the district from Kathmandu and Pokhara as one of the reasons behind low tourist arrival in the district.
The locals also requested officials of
TAAN to develop its TIMS Counter at Besishahar as a Tourist Information Center.
TAAN Treasurer Anjan Thapa said the
association is preparing to develop a consolidated map of Lamjung, including all
trekking trails and major tourist attractions in the district. “We can work
jointly to develop the consolidated map,” Thapa said, adding that TAAN is ready
to distribute promotional collaterals developed by local firms from its TIMS
Counter. He also said entrepreneurs are not interested to operate tourist bus
service to Lamjung because the district is popular among trekkers as the
gateway to the Annapurna Region. “They won’t get return traffic,” he added.
Chief District Officer of Lamjung Baburam
Bhandari underlined the need to provide necessary training to home stay
operators so as to make their service more effective. He also said local
tourism stakeholders should coordinate with tourism ministry, Nepal Tourism
Board (NTB) and TAAN, among others to establish a tourism information center in
Prem Ghale, chairman of Ghalegaon Rural
Tourism Development Committee, said political commitment is necessary for
overall tourism development in the district.
TAAN CEO Gangasagar Pant said the lack of communication between stakeholders, service providers and consumers is hampering tourism potentials of the district. He underscored the need for proper cooperation among them for effective tourism development.
Government officials, local entrepreneurs, district leaders of different political parties, officials of Lamjung Tourism Master Plan Coordination Committee, tourism entrepreneurs and officials of TAAN, among others, were present in the interaction.