Santosh Pokharel is the newly elected Chairman of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Western Regional Association Pokhara. Pokhrel, who is also a Managing Director of Lovely Mount Tours and Travel Pvt. Ltd. Pokhara was unanimously elected as Chairman from the 10th convention of NATTA Pokhara. Here is presented a short chitchat with Pokhrel. Excerpts:
As a chairman of NATTA Pokhara, what are you planning to do during your two years of tenure?
I am thinking of continuing the promotional tours in domestic and international markets as being done for long. The exploration of new destinations in Nepal and their promotion will also be in my priority. Domestic tourists will be encouraged to visit Nepal and the familiarization tours will also be carried out in foreign destinations like Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. We have already concluded promotional tours so many foreign destinations including recent West Bengal one.
How do you assess those kinds of promotional tours that NATTA done; are they impacting really positive?
Of course, they have been turning very fruitful and the numbers of tourists who visit Pokhara also are the result of that kind of campaigns. Similarly, we will also train the members and staffers of the travel agencies, youths and taxi drivers on how to provide right information to needful tourists about Pokhara. At the same time, we make tourists visit Pokhara as we are naturally and culturally rich.
Do you have any plan of extending the length of stay of tourists in and around Pokhara?
We are going to conduct a tour guide training in near future. Now a day in many situations, taxi drivers have been guiding tourists to the sightseeing spots. In such cases, some of sightseeing spots are skipped and tourist may not also get right information about their visiting points. So, I am thinking of long term planning to strengthen the stay of visitors. Developing guidebook and information directory is also in my list.
What do you say about the connectivity as the issue is being one of the most talked topics in the context of air and road access?
The issue of connectivity is very important however there is no problem in the routes and destinations where tourist bus service is available but there are several other destinations where such services are not available. We will try to operate tourist bus service from Pokhara to those cities discussing with the stakeholders. At the same time, we need to connect the cities like Nepalgunj and Birgunj through direct air services as Bhairahawa and Bharatpur have already been connected to Pokhara through direct air service.
NATTA Pokhara had step down as a member of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC) but the membership was restored later; why is such in and out?
As there was an informal understanding that the head of the member organization would lead the PTC turn by turn but that system was not followed and we had to withdraw our membership from there. But the issue was sorted out later and we again joined the PTC.