These undated photos show religious tourists visiting a site in Khaptad National Park. Photo: Jagat Khadka
DHANGADHI, July 17: Though rich in places of tourist attraction, Province 7 is yet to take benefit from tourism.
The province is home to numerous tourist attractions such as Khaptad National Park, Badimalika, Ramaroshan, Saat Bahini Devi, Barasinghe Bathan and other historical and religious sites. Unfortunately, these destinations are waiting for tourists, mainly due to lack of promotion and preservation.
“Province 7 has enough potential for tourism industry. However, the government is yet to reach out to these places,” said Gopal Hamal, former executive member of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
Lack of promotion, physical infrastructure, good accommodation for tourists, and security are some of the major requirements for tourism industry to grow in the province. Due to lack of these factors, the region is not a favorite for tourists, according to Dharmaraj Pathak, a civil society member. “Failing to sell tourism here, we have been unable to earn foreign currency,” Pathak added.
There are several big cities in India just 300 to 400 kilometers away from this province. One can reach New Delhi, Gurgaon, Lucknow, Rudrapur, Kanpur, Dehradun, Bareli and other Indian cities in about seven to eight hours from here. Large number of Indian tourist can visit this place if only these destinations could be promoted in these Indian cities.
“We can see a crowd of tourists at Dudhwa National Park of India that is next to the Indo-Nepal border. But Shuklaphata National Park in this side of the border often looks empty,” said Hemraj Panta, a teacher at Kailali Multiple Campus. “Indian tourists are not visiting this province although there is a lot of tourism potential here.”
Indian tourists generally travel to cooler places during the summer months. They often go to the Indian hill station of Nainital, which lies near this province. With little promotion, these tourists could be attracted to the Nepali side where they can enjoy spectacular views of the mountains.
There are several historical and religious destinations in this province. Religious places like Godavari Dham, Parashuram Dham, Dilpeshwor Dham and Baidhanath are situated in this province. Suklaphanta National Park, Ghodagodhi Lake, Tikapur Park are also located here. One can even go for mountaineering at Api, and Saipal peaks. On the cultural side, indigenous Tharu community has lots to offer to the tourists.
Large number of Indian tourists visits Kailash Manasrovar for pilgrimage. With a road connection from Gauriphanta and Banbasa of India to Uraibhanjyang of Bajhang can provide a short route for such pilgrimage. By attracting Indian religious tourists travelling to Mansarovar, the province can earn tourism revenues.
An exact data of tourist arrival in the province is not available. Beside Indian tourists, American, British, French, and German nationals visit this province. However, most of their visits are official visits only.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari agrees that there is a lot to be done to promote tourism in Province 7.
Talking with Republica, he said that lack of physical infrastructure and promotional activities have been hampering tourism in the province. “We are planning to build some good infrastructure for tourists within a year,” he said. “We are thinking of ways to attract more Indian tourists here.” He further committed to upgrade Dhangadhi airport and start direct flights from there to New Delhi and Lucknow of India.