NTB names new destinations for rural tourism

 

The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has identified more than 10 new destinations suitable for rural tourism. These scenic spots are expected to add an important dimension to the upcoming Nepal Tourism Year 2011 (NTY 2011) that has targeted to bring one million tourists.

Lila Baniya, manager, Sustainable Tourism Development, NTB, said that the move to diversify tourist destinations was aimed at enticing 40 percent of the visitors expected during NTY 2011 to visit rural destinations. He added that the government expected the private sector to invest in infrastructure development in these areas. Baniya said that the government of Nepal had allocated Rs. 20 million to promote NTY 2011 but the funds had not been released due to a delay in endorsing the budget.

He, however, said that selection of potential destinations, houses or resorts, providing training, making tour packages, fam trips and market promotion for the selected destination were underway. "There are challenges as we need to launch new activities and products including the basic infrastructure that will determine the length of stay in the villages," he said.

According to him, last year, the government of Nepal initiated a pilot programme from Khaptad to Ilam to discover new potential destination.

Similarly, the Tara Gaon Development Board (TGDB) including other organizations was also studying on sustainable village tourism development across the country. According to the NTB, villages like Sirubari, Ghalegaon, Nar Phu, Lumbini, Chepang, Pasgaon, Dhading, Sailung, Siklish, Siurung, Balanthali, Sivapuri, Bhujung, Gorkha, Ganga Jamuna and Nagarkot have already gained popularity for village tourism. It said that a number of travel and trade enterprises have tour packages for some of these destinations.

Surya Prakash Shrestha, president of the Village Tourism Promotion Forum Nepal (VITOF Nepal), stated that both international and domestic visitors were giving positive response for rural tourism. "The potential of village tourism is gradually increasing, however, there is no support and priority provided by the government for tourism diversification," he said.

Shrestha said that village tourism was a promising way to diversify destinations and prolong their length of stay besides reflecting Nepal's indigenous communities and their culture, religion and ethnicity.

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