- Menka Chaudhary
Banke. The private sector and tourism entrepreneurs have become enthusiastic after the Nepalgunj-Pokhara and Pokhara-Nepalgunj flights started for the first time due to the efforts of the private sector.
The number of passengers on the Nepalgunj-Pokhara flight, which was started two months ago with the objective of connecting Banke and Bardiya in western Nepal directly with the major tourist cities, is increasing.
For a long time, the issue of direct Nepalgunj-Pokhara flight has been widely discussed and debated, but no airline had started its commercial flight before.
The Banke Chapter of the Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATA), which has been pushing the issue, had started charter flights on the route last February to put pressure on the government and the airline.
The charter flight, which started from Sita Air’s 18-seat aircraft, was affected by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and stopped in the middle. Even two years ago, Buddha and Yeti Airlines planned to start the Nepalgunj-Pokhara flight but postponed it for various reasons.
Buddha Air has now started commercial flights on the route due to intense pressure from tourism businessmen and demand from passengers. Buddha Air’s Nepalgunj station chief Binit Shah said that the company’s 19-seater aircraft has started daily flights on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the time being.
He said that various packages have also been brought on the Nepalgunj-Pokhara route to attract passengers. Airlines officials say that the number of domestic passengers has increased significantly in this epidemic of Corona. Passengers are now ready to board the plane due to the fear of Corona’s infection.
He says that Buddha has achieved more success in Nepalgunj flight than he thought. The tourism entrepreneurs here believe that it will help in the promotion of tourism in the Nepalgunj and the Pokhara region.
Chairman of the Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATA) Banke Chapter, Shri Ram Sigdel, said that the Nepalgunj-Pokhara route was overcrowded.
Recalling that the NATA Banke Chapter had earlier chartered flights on the route from the private sector, Buddha Air has started commercial flights in support of the campaign they have started.
There are more than half a dozen star hotels in Nepalgunj targeting tourists visiting Rara, Kailas Mansarovar, Bardiya National Park, Banke National Park, and other tourist destinations in the western region.
Indian tourists coming through Nepalgunj wanted to go to Pokhara by visiting this area and tourists from Pokhara wanted to come directly to Nepalgunj, for which there was no direct flight before. In the past, people’s representatives, tourism businessmen, travel agencies, and others took initiatives for direct flights, but the issue was still unresolved due to the negligence of the government and the airline.
Krishna Prasad Shrestha, the coordinator of the Tourism Promotion Forum Banke, said that the tourism sector is facing the direct impact of the lack of direct flights which is a financial burden to the tourists. Passengers, hoteliers, and tourism entrepreneurs are happy after the country’s leading airline Buddha Air started commercial flights for the first time.
Various stakeholders welcomed the passengers from Pokhara on the first flight and bade farewell to the passengers flying from Nepalgunj to Pokhara. The company has stated that passengers are booking tickets on the route. The per capita fare for the Nepalgunj-Pokhara flight has been fixed at Rs 4,995, Rs 5,565, and Rs 7,665.
Apart from this, Rs. 11,000 has been brought for the tourists coming from Nepalgunj to Pokhara, two nights stay, breakfast and transport to Bimasthal-Hotel and Rs. 13,900 for the tourists coming from Pokhara to Bardiya National Park with the same facility.
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