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Bandipur drawing tourists again

Tanahun, May 15, 2016: Tourism industry in Bandipur—one of the major tourist hotspots in the country—is gaining traction after a sharp decline in visitors’ numbers in 2015.

The number of visitors dropped two-thirds in the face of the devastating earthquakes and fuel shortage triggered by trade embargo last year.

Bandipur used to see more than 120,000 visitors during peak season. “But the number dropped to 30,000 last year,” said Bayas Gurung, chairman of the Tourism Development Committee.

“It took us a year to spread the message that Bandipur is a safe destination. It will take more time for tourism to recover to the previous level,” he said.

Except for damages to a few old structures, Bandipur escaped major destruction in the earthquake. The hotels remained intact. “Our hotels were safe, yet we had to wait a year for tourists to arrive,” said Gurung. “We have invested a lot to promote the religious, cultural and tourist areas in town.”

The committee has made arrangements for Newari, Gurung and Magar culture observation along with Sidhha cave visit, rock climbing and sightseeing.

Local tourism entrepreneurs have launched a campaign to attract domestic and international tourists by organising various festivals. The committee had joined hands with hotel operators, municipality and district chamber of commerce to promote tourism after last year’s disaster. Their efforts has started to pay off as Bandipur started to draw tourists.

Sanat Shrestha, president of Bandipur Hotel Association, said many hotel operators were discouraged by the freefall in tourist numbers. However, a string of collective campaigns launched encouraged hoteliers to open their business. Bandipur has been receiving around 150 foreign tourists daily.

Shrestha said that the tourist registration centre in the area is yet to come into operation. “We will start the registration after re-establishing the centre within two months,” he said.

He added that the domestic tourism has rebounded strongly and their numbers have reached the levels in the previous years.

The association is currently organising food festival in Bandipur. The town’s 60 tourist-standard hotels boast 1,200 room-nights. Panoramic mountain views, including that of Annapurna and Manaslu, are the major draw. “We are planning to launch separate tour packages targeting tourists to extend their stays to at least two days after visiting Kathmandu, Pokhara and Sauraha,” said Gurung.

Lekhnath Neupane, executive officer at Bandipur Municipality, said they have also been helping the industry in tourism promotion.