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Tourism rebounds with a vengeance in Sauraha

Bharatpur, December 3, 2016: Tourism in the popular jungle safari destination of Sauraha has rebounded with a vengeance after suffering a series of disasters last year.

According to the statistics of Chitwan National Park, it received 38,604 visitors in the first four months (mid-July to mid-November) of the fiscal year.

Among the arrivals, 30,484 were foreign adventure seekers. During the same period last year, 18,138 foreign tourists had visited the park.

The tourism industry tried hard to bring back safari goers to Sauraha by launching discount schemes after arrivals nosedived in the wake of the April 25 earthquake last year.

The battered industry received another blow when India imposed a trade embargo in September last year, the peak tourist season in Nepal.

According to entrepreneurs, business plunged 50 percent as foreign visitors kept away from Sauraha which is known for its rich wildlife including the Royal Bengal tiger and one-horned rhino.

The jungle safari destination in the southern plains was not greatly affected by the tremor which devastated parts of Nepal, but potential visitors stopped coming following exaggerated reports of widespread destruction across the country, travel traders said.

Narendra Aryal, assistant conservation officer of the park, said that Sauraha’s tourism had returned to its vibrant self. According to him, the park collected Rs61.1 million in entrance fees in the first four months of the current fiscal year.

There are more than 150 tourist standard hotels and resorts. Among them, 30 hotels offer international class amenities.

Tourism also suffered after the Narayangadh-Mugling road section was disrupted by a landslide in June. However, business activities have rebounded strongly this year as hordes of domestic holidaymakers have been thronging the park too.

Sauraha is one of the key tourist destinations in the country after Kathmandu and Pokhara. “The tourism industry has significantly improved this year, but it is still not enough,” said Suman Ghimire, president of the Chitwan chapter of Hotel Association Nepal. “However, arrival figures from the last few months have shown signs of a rebound.”

Recently, tourism entrepreneurs in Sauraha asked the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation to allow tourists to enter the park for three days with a single ticket. They said that such a provision would help boost the length of stay of tourists.

Foreigners have to purchase an entrance ticket costing Rs 1,695 which is good for one day. They have to pay another Rs 2,000 for the services of a guide.

By Shiva Puri