Deepak Raj Adhikari is the newly elected president of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Western Regional Association (WRA) Pokhara. He is also a Managing Director of LN Treks Pokhara and is an experienced trekking guide. Here is presented a short chitchat with Mr Adhikari. Excerpts:
Tell us your upcoming plans as a TAAN WRA president.
The Management and development of previously explored trekking routes, exploration of few more such routes and their conservation would be my priorities. Likewise, I would try to discourage free individual trekking without guide and porter as well as the unhealthy competition in trekking business. So, TAAN WRA would come up with a concept of no trekking without guide and porter for safe trekking.
You had earlier cautioned that the tourists who wish to come to Pokhara have diverted to other destinations; what went wrong to Pokhara region?
Actually, Pokhara and its surrounding areas have losing their touristic attractions mainly by road construction. Tourists have hesitated to trek to some world popular trekking areas like Annapurna and Dhawalagiri as the trekking routes in those areas have been messed up by road building in recent years. I say, It is the devastation in the name of development. It also crumbles the typicality of Nepali culture. The vehicular movement and dusts have spoiled the trekking atmosphere in those areas. So, the trekkers have diverted to their destinations to Kanchenjunga, Ganesh Himal and Gauri Shankar areas.
Is there any bad impact of recent Indo-Pak tension on Nepali tourism?
Of course we are experiencing the adverse impact of that tension which is demoralizing the confidence of visitors and causing the booking cancellation in the verge of tourist season in Pokhara. Because of the hyped media reports, everybody is thinking of possible war between India and Pakistan. Most of the tourists come to Nepal via India and the few parts of the Pakistani sky have also been banned as no fly zone. So, numbers of tourists have already started to choose Sri Lanka as their visiting destination.
So, what can Nepal Government do to promote and develop overall Nepalese tourism?
First of all, the government especially Tourism Ministry and Nepal Tourism Board should spread the messages that Nepal is safe to visit, in popular international media. Likewise, Popular and renowned trekking destinations should be declared as trekking conservation areas by the government. So that the trekking routes could be saved from road building and development works.
The government should cooperate with TAAN and should work hand in hand to curb the illegal trekking. Similarly, tourism entrepreneurs or their agencies’ representatives who go to take part in international travel mart or seminars to promote Nepal should be facilitated by the government or by its embassy in respective country. The government and CAAN should seriously work to lift the EU’s ban on the Nepalese airlines to enter the European airspace.
What is your suggestion to sort out the ongoing row over millions of un-audited amount collected from foreign trekkers through Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS)?
My suggestion is that the TAAN, Nepal Tourism Board and Tourism Ministry should come to a table and should sort out that dispute through dialogue so that the collected fund could be invested for the development and promotion of trekking and tourism destinations.