November 25, 2019 10:10 AM NPT
By: GANESH BISHU
Vehicles stopping at the Raralihi section of Jumla under Karnali Highway. Photo: Db Budha/ Republica
BIRENDRANAGAR, Nov 25: As the Visit Nepal Year 2020 approaches, the roads of Karnali Province are going to pose serious challenge to the major tourism campaign of the country.
Roads to the tourist destinations of the province are either absent or dangerous, which will keep many prospective tourists off the destinations.
The gravel roads to Rara Lake are risky and there is no roadway to Shey-Phoksundo Lake of Dolpa. Unable to construct roads, the government does not look well prepared to welcome tourists to Karnali.
Karnali Province has received only Rs 2.5 million from the VNY 2020 secretariat for the upcoming campaign. According to the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, the provincial government has allocated Rs 1 million for the inauguration of the campaign on January 1, 2020, and Rs 1 million for promotional activities. There is confusion regarding the expenses of the allocated budget as to whether use it for the maintenance of the roads or to use it for cleanliness and other projects.
Prakash Adhikari, secretary member of VNY 2020's Karnali Provincial Tourism Promotion Committee, said that roads have been the major challenge for the Visit Nepal Year. “The roads here are still in sorry state,” he said, “Air service is costly, and not everyone can afford it." He said that the tourists cannot reach tourist destinations traveling via air alone.
The residents of major tourist destinations are expecting better roads during the VNY 2020. “Tourists take up risky travels through gravel and narrow roads to reach Rara,” said Dharmendra Shahi of Mugu, “The government might upgrade the roads for the VNY program.” He said roads needed to be upgraded to take tourists to Rara.
The government has also failed to build other supportive infrastructure in Rara area. Though thousands of tourists reach Rara annually, they never return for a second trip.
Anju Chaudhary, an officer at the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment said trekking trails and tourist roads were needed in the area. “Roads are indispensible,” she said.
The provincial government of Karnali has set a target to welcome 1 million tourists to the province in 2020.