By Basanta Raj Dawadi: In recent years, paragliding not only has remained sports and adventure activity but also emerged as a business product. As it has looked as Business Avenue, there have seen so many challenges and threats in this business. Talking about paragliding, Nepal is one of the top five paragliding destinations of the world as the activity is being popular day by day not only in Nepal but internationally.
Though the paragliding activity entered in Pokhara for two decade ago, still we feel lack of perfect rules and acts to regulate this adventure sports and business. So, I am going to write few points about the problems and threat facing this business; also some points on solution part to solve the issues.
According to our knowledge, the first Paraglide arrived with the mission of paragliding in Pokhara on 1989 & flew from Pumdi Bhumdi of Kaski. And later on 1984/85, few Germans came as Para gliders & flew from Sarangkot of Kaski as tandem flights. Again in 1994, Mr. Adam Hill, a British citizen, started exploring paragliding opportunity in & around Pokhara, joining hands with sunrise trekking.
Likewise, in 1999 Sunrise Paragliding Company established as a first Paragliding company in Nepal. As per the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) given data, following are the registered paragliding companies in Nepal so far.
Sarangkot : 20 Companies
Toripani : 42 Companies
Dharan : 2 Companies
Kathmandu : 4 Companies
Palpa : 1 Company
Surkhet : 1 Company
Bandipur : 4 Companies
Syanja : 1 Company
Total : 75 Companies
So many companies have been permitted to operate the paragliding business but they are facing dozens of problems. There is still not clear government policy on importing paraglide equipments. We are facing high custom rate & unclear policy. The rule 2069 regarding paragliding is still unclear on so many issues such as; flying Permission, licensing, schooling, training, authorization, establishing new company and bank guaranty. It is also unclear that who is responsible towards the development of infrastructure of paragliding. Who to blame? Tourism Ministry, CAAN, operators or pilots?
I am focusing the issues to reduce conjunction of flying sites in Toripani & Sarangkot, to promote & expand tourism in different parts of the country, to allow Paragliding Company to develop the area of different part of Nepal. Centralized administrative System is also another problem for entrepreneurs and pilots. We are facing problem on ASOC renewal, to get recommendation letter for labor office & etc.
Equipment purchasing & lease, establishment of authorized retailer & wholesaler, clarification of lease process – CAAN/ Ministry can solve the problems to some extent. Similarly, decrease in custom rates for importing equipments, mention clearly on policy by ministry or CAAN, to purchase or lease equipments also are our demands.
We want reduce or wave off on the price of flying permission. Authorize NAA or equivalent association to issue license under the supervision of CAAN is also our demand. Likewise giving authority to NAA or equivalent association to train tandem pilots under the supervision of CAAN will be also better.
NAA also demands to address the debate of flying permit fee mention on airports rule chapter 6. Also wave off or reduce of Bank Guaranty or take it one place- either in CAAN or in Ministry. Talking about infrastructure side, all should take equal responsibility on exploring new sites. Government should allocate adequate budget from CAAN, Ministry of tourism to explore, develop & promote in different part of the country.
Similarly, decentralize some work to CAAN & Tourism office in Pokhara for issuing flying examination & license for paragliding tandem pilots, renewal of ASOC, and temporary permission for flying, audit inspections. At last, the vital question is: what will happen for paragliding & other air sports when Pokhara Regional International Airport will be in Operation.