POKHARA, Nov 30: Lakeside, the tourist district of Pokhara, is warming up for 13th South Asian Games (SAG) which begins from Sunday.
As Pokhara is co-hosting the event with Kathmandu and Janakpur, tourism entrepreneurs of the lake city are hopeful of better business prospects during SAG 2019 – the multisport event of seven South Asian countries. Pokhara will host eight sporting events.
Altogether, 824 guests, including athletes and officials, will stay in Pokhara during the games. The event is also expected to attract hundreds of spectators.
Athletes and officials started arriving in Pokhara from Thursday. Balram Lama, chairperson of the local technical committee of SAG Management Committee, 396 female and 264 male athletes, and 164 officials will stay in Pokhara.
The local organizer has arranged accommodation for 1,100 guests. According to Lama, 40 hotels have been booked for athletes and officials. Local hoteliers say they are happy to serve international athletes at a time when they were seeing slackness in their business.
According to Surya Bhujel, coordinator of the accommodation committee, these players and officials will stay in Pokhara for a minimum of eight days. But the hotels have been booked for three more days – two days prior to the games and one day after the game. “Each room costs a minimum of Rs 6,000 including the cost of three meals”, Bhujel added. “Room cost of VIP guests will be a bit higher.”
The organizers have estimated accommodation and food cost at Rs 100 million.
“As there will be other guests and spectators, hotels will get business of an estimated Rs 150 million during the games,” he added.
Along with food and accommodation, tourism entrepreneurs are also benefiting by providing motor vehicles for movement of athletes and officials between hotels and match venues. “Tourism sector will benefit further as spectators and officials might want to enjoy different adventure activities like bungee, rafting, paragliding, ultra-light flight, among others,” Bhujel added.
Tourism entrepreneurs believe athletes and officials will help promote Pokhara and its tourism attractions through their social media channels. They are hopeful that athletes will relay positive message about Pokhara when they return home after the games.
Raj Kumar KC, chief manager of Hotel Barahi, told Republica that his hotel has received booking for 12 days. “Many athletes and officials are staying in our hotel. SAG 2019 has provided us yet another business opportunity,” he said.
Meanwhile, tourism entrepreneurs have announced different freebies like free sightseeing for athletes and officials. “They are the guests of the nation. We will spare no effort to ensure a pleasing experience for them while they are in Pokhara,” Bhujel added. “We have also requested tourism entrepreneurs to offer special tour packages for guests.”
Chiranjivi Pokhrel, chairperson of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), told Republica that SAG 2019 has made all entrepreneurs excited and encouraged. “This sporting event will play an important role in promoting Pokhara in the South Asia region,” he said.