April 1, 2019 11:28 AM NPT
By: Suman Malla
Karnali-Rara Tourism Year campaign had targeted 100,000 visitors
MUGU, April 1: The number of tourists visiting Rara Lake in Mugu district is rising steadily.
According to data of Rara National Park Office, over 15,000 have visited Rara Lake till March. Local stakeholders say the number of visitors is rising at a satisfactory rate, thanks to promotion of the area as a tourist destination.
Though foreign tourist footfalls have remained fairly constant, the number of domestic tourists is posting a healthy rise, data compiled by the office shows. “Though heavy snowfall had temporarily halted tourist flow, with weather clearing up through March, the number of visitors is increasing,” Lal Bahadur Bhandari, chief warden of Rara National Park, told Republica.
The number, however, is far lower than the target that the Karnali Province has set for the year. The province is observing Karnali-Rara Visit Year in 2075 BS, with a target to welcome 100,000 visitors. Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli had inaugurated the campaign on April 14 last year. With only two weeks remaining in the year, the target, however, has become unattainable.
The national park office, however, is optimistic of getting more visitors in the coming days. With weather clearing up with the advent of spring season, the largest lake in the country is expected to witness increased tourist footfalls in the coming days.
Though the number of visiting Rara Lake is increasing with each passing year, finding a quality accommodation is a difficult ordeal. Local stakeholders say good hotels serving hygienic food are essential to extend tourists stay in Rara Lake area.
“If we are able to provide quality accommodation for tourists and other activities for visitors, we can make good earnings through domestic tourism,” Bhandari added.
There are only two hotels in Rara Lake area at present. In the absence of quality accommodation, visitors often have to face hardships, forcing them to cut their program short.
National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2019 BS bars construction of hotels or any other infrastructures inside the national parks. However, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation has issued temporary permits to two hotels.
According to the national park office, preparations are underway to encourage investors to build hotels outside the national park.