Karnali Province welcomed only 233,021 tourists during tourism year campaign which is far below the targeted 500,000 footfall
SURKHET, April 13: Karnali Province welcomed 233,021 tourists in Nepali year 2075 i.e. mid-April 2018 to mid-April 2019. The number includes 633 foreign tourists.
However, the arrival figure is less than half of the target set by the provincial government for Karnali-Rara Tourism Year 2075 campaign. The campaign, which was announced on April 14 last year from Rara Lake – a major tourist attraction of the province, had set a target of welcoming 500,000 tourists during the period.
Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli had inaugurated the campaign.
Sher Bahadur Rokaya, an information officer for the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, Karnali Province, accepted that the provincial government could not work as per enthusiasm seen during inauguration ceremony of the campaign.
The campaign led by Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi had targeted to welcome half of the targeted 500,000 visitors in Rara Lake area. "But only 5,530 visited Rara Lake area during the year. Only 216 of them were foreigners," he added.
According to Purna Bahadur Rokaya, chairperson of District Coordination Committee, Mugu, the provincial government had declared Rara Lake as 'tourism center' of the province while declaring the yearlong campaign. "But necessary infrastructures couldn't be readied in time. This affected the performance of the campaign," he added. "We have learnt how important infrastructure is for tourism industry."
A report prepared by the ministry shows most of the tourists visited Kakrebihar and Bulbule Lake in Birendranagar of Surkhet. According to the ministry's data, 36,900 tourists visited Kakrebihar, while 160,000 visited Bulbule Lake. Of the total tourists visiting Kakrebihar, 34 were foreigners. Bulbule Lake didn't receive any foreign tourists.
The provincial government even failed to open a secretariat to oversee the tourism year campaign. The provincial government had said that it would authorize the secretariat to identify and promote potential areas for tourism development. "But the yearlong campaign came to a conclusion before the secretariat could be established," said Rokaya.
During the yearlong campaign, the provincial government completed only three 'notable' tasks – construction of main gate of the provincial tourism ministry, installation of hoarding boards at Dhuliyawit and Surkhet airport; installation of digital display boards at the office of the Chief Minister and other two ministers.
"The tourism year campaign was a total mess due to lack of the secretariat and dedicated employees," added Rokaya.
Karnali Province has number of religious, historical, cultural and natural attractions. These attractions hold great tourism potentials. However, the provincial government has not been able to exploit it tourism potentials effectively due to lack of infrastructure.
CORRUPTION IN INAUGURATION CEREMONY
The first event of the provincial after the country adopted federal set up brewed controversy. The Public Accounts Committee of the provincial parliament has concluded that Rs 3.7 million was embezzled during inauguration ceremony of the campaign. The provincial government has submitted different spending data to the provincial parliament, Public Accounts Office, and the auditor general's office.