Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nepal tourist thrust - - Low airfares, hospitality offers

- BAPPA MAJUMDAR

The Himalayan kingdom is dolling up for the winter tourist.Given the exclusive holiday packages and travel discounts on offer by the Nepal government, the Himalayan kingdom promises to be one of the favourite tourist haunts for Calcuttans this winter.
 
To start with, Cosmic Air and Indian Airlines have come up with a Rs 3,300-plus round trip to Kathmandu and back.

On the other hand, officials of the Nepalese Tourism Board (NTB) said, two to three nights for a couple would cost as low as Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,500 in some of the top star-category hotels in Kathmandu.
 
“Some of the packages offer airfare, transfer, half-day sightseeing and meals amid luxurious surroundings,” an NTB official added.
 
An Indian Airlines spokesman said: “We have tied up with exclusive hotels in Kathmandu to offer amazing holiday packages. The favourite locales so far are Kathmandu, Pokhara and the Chitwan region.”
 
Trekking in the Kathmandu valley and the Everest region, mountaineering expeditions and jungle safaris in Royal Chitwan and Bardiya national parks will also be much cheaper.
 
“With elections slated for next year and talks with Maoist rebels slowly bearing fruit, we are looking at lasting peace. Therefore, our focus is now on what has always been our strength — tourism,” Nepalese consul general Govind Prasad Kusum told Metro.
 
Even till a few years ago, Kathmandu was one of the hottest destinations for Calcuttans, with as many as 1,500 of them setting out for the picturesque land every week. But in recent times, with a lot of negative publicity doing the rounds, tourist figures started to dwindle.
 
“The feedback we get from tourists who travel to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan is very good now. With the situation improving, we hope that the tourist flow to Nepal will pick up again,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (east) of Travel Agents Federation of India.
 
One of the biggest attractions for Calcuttans has been the Kailash Manasarovar tour, with over 100 takers for it this year.
 
The World Elephant Polo Championships (December 1-7), the national tourism festival (December 20-30), the paragliding festival (November-end) and the Himalayan white-water challenge are also big draws.

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