Weekly Official e-Newsletter of Nepal Tourism Board
(Printable version)
March2, 2012
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Healthy growth in International tourist arrivals continues
Tourism seminar on Nepal in Korea
Nepal enchants Thai visitors in TITF
Central-Western India tourism Roadshow concludes
Adventurers of the Year 2012
Nepal’s local eateries
Buddha Air launches KTM-Varanasi flights

Healthy growth in International tourist arrivals continues

The upward trend which is already seen in January 2012 continues in the second month of the year 2012 showing clearly the rising travel demand towards the destination. Nepal has enjoyed a sustained positive growth in the international visitor arrivals since June 2009.

The figures released by Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) reveal that visitor arrivals in the month of February 2012, compared to the same month last year, have increased by 13.7% to 42,716.

All regions have shown positive growth in the second month of 2012. India which constitutes the major market of Nepal, has recorded positive growth of 28.8 %. However, the arrivals from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have declined by 12.4%, 16% and 23.8%respectively. In aggregate the South Asian segment has registered a positive growth of 20.4%.

Arrivals from Asia (other than South Asia) have also recorded positive growth of 4.3% in aggregate with mixed performance from the individual countries. The visitor arrivals from Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand have increased by 33.2%, 19.8% 31.5% and 7.9% respectively. However the arrivals from China and Singapore declined by 23.1% and 25.3 % respectively.

An overall positive growth of 17.5% has been observed from the European markets with arrivals from major generating markets such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia up by 9.8%, 8.8%, 3.0%, 31.2%, 87.9%,42.4%, 34.3%, 35% and 6.8% respectively. However, the arrivals from the Netherlands and Norway have declined by 20.1% and 6.7% % respectively compared to the same month last year.

Tourist arrivals from Australia and USA have increased by 18.5% and 10.4% respectively whereas the arrivals from Canada and New Zealand saw negative growth of 5.2% and 34.2% respectively.

In January-February period of 2012, international tourist arrivals to Nepal have risen by 20.2% to 84,747.

A total of 46,499 foreign tourists departed from TIA in February 2012. The number of Nepalese arrivals stood at 61,409 while 67,238 Nepalese departed from TIA in February 2012.

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Tourism seminar on Nepal in Korea

The Embassy of Nepal in Seoul, Korea organized a one-day seminar on Nepal: a Land of Culture, Nature and Adventure with the objective of promoting Nepali tourism in Korea. Mr. Raja Ram Bartaula, Charge d Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Nepal in Seoul, presenting Nepal in the slides highlighted the prominent features of the Nepalese tourism with exotic destinations and products and requested the participants representing from the travel and tour operators to develop the specific Nepal-centric tourism packages according to the taste of the Korean travelers. Underscoring the importance of Lumbini, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, as a centre of peace, Mr. Bartaula said that the Government of Nepal has declared Visit Lumbini Year 2012 for the development of Lumbini and attract many visitors. In order to make the success of Visit Lumbini Year, he also requested the Korean tour operators to lure more visitors in Lumbini.

Ven. Nabin Bajracharya, welcomed all the participants and wished for the success of the seminar. In his welcome remarks, he said that a Buddhist must pay a visit of Lumbini in his or her life time. Dr. Lee In-Jeong, President of Korea-Nepal Friendship Association and Alpine Federation of Korea gave the congratulatory remarks and called on the stakeholders to promote the fascinating Nepalese Cultures, Nature and adventures in Korea.

The Seminar was attended by representatives of the travel and tour, airline operators and tourism entrepreneurs.

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Nepal enchants Thai visitors in TITF

Nepal Tourism Board along with three private travel and tour companies from Nepal namely AMS Holidays Pvt. Ltd, Global Holidays Tours & Travel Pvt. Ltd. and Red Lion Travels & Tour Pvt. Ltd. successfully participated in the 10th episode of Thai International Travel Fair (TITF) held from 23 to 26 February 2012 at Queen Sirikit International Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand. The fair was organized by Thai Travel Agents Association with the objective of creating a platform among travel tour operators and general visitors who are seeking new travel experiences as an inbound and outbound. It is notable that Thai Tour operators are selling Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini as popular destinations among Thai people.

During the fair, the most of the visitors had inquired about Lumbini package along with packages of heritage sites of Kathmandu valley, mountain views and Pokhara. They were also found interested in soft adventure and cultural tour activities that Nepal can offer as a comparative advantage packages in South Asia. Meanwhile, the three companies from Nepal introduced their promotional packages in the fair keeping in mind the ongoing Visit Lumbini Year 2012 as a focal program to promote Lumbini among Buddhist. They had also booked their packages. The fair was observed by about 0.8 million visitors and most of them visited Nepal booth.

Air connectivity always remains a major factor for tourist arrival. Thai Airways operates daily and Nepal Airlines operates two flights in a week from Bangkok to Kathmandu and vice-versa.

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Central-Western India tourism Roadshow concludes

Nepal Tourism Board completed a three-city Roadshow in Central-Western India with the aim of increasing awareness and educating the Indian Travellers on Nepals tourism products and offerings. The Road Show was organized in the Tier II cities of Pune, Ahmedabad and Indore on 21st, 23rd and 25th February respectively.

The programs in all three cities were designed on B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) module. The first B2B session of the program was dedicated to trade workshop where Nepalese Tour Operators and Indian Travel Trade had one-to-one interaction and business dealings. The travel trade from all the cities had extensive deliberation with the Nepalese tour operators which helped towards enhancing the existing business, forging new alliances and expanding Nepals presence in the Indian Market. The second session of the program was dedicated to Nepal Press Conference amongst the Indian Press and Media. A presentation on destination Nepal was made for both the Indian press and trade on the occasion.

Commemorating this year as Visit Lumbini Year 2012, this road show further focused on strengthening the position of Lumbini as the centre of global peace and helped position Lumbini among the Indian travellers as the centre of Buddhist pilgrimage.

Nepal Road Show was attended by a total of around 60 media personnel and 180 Indian outbound agents. The Nepalese delegation comprised of NTB officials Mr. Udaya Bhattarai and Mr. Rohini Prasad Khanal and the tour operators namely: Eco Trek Nepal, Heritage Tours $ Travels, Jai Mata Di Tours & Travels, Kathmandu Holiday Tours and Travels, Fishtail Tours & Travels, Shrestha Holidays.

Nepal continues to draw attention and command appeal to the Indian travelers. No visa requirement, good air connectivity with almost 76 flights per week to the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Kolkata, Lucknow, easy access by road, year round pleasant weather, favorable exchange rate for Indian currency and an inventory of religious, cultural, recreational and soft adventure products Nepal offers are the major factors which contribute to Nepals popularity as a favorite holiday destination amongst Indians.

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Adventurers of the Year 2012

The Ultimate Descent: Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa
Two Nepalis complete a mission to launch a paraglider from Mount Everest’s summit and kayak the Ganges to the Indian Ocean.

When Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa first saw paragliders arrive in the Himalaya, he dreamed of flying above the massive peaks of his home—the Khumbu region. After his third successful summit guiding trip on Everest, he viewed paragliding as a simpler, faster, and more graceful way of descending through the peak’s perilous slopes.

In October of 2010, Lakpa borrowed a paraglider, got a few pointers, and launched from a hillside above his home. He promptly crashed into a tree. With his paraglider wing badly damaged, Lakpa set out for the town of Pokhara, considered to be the gathering spot for paragliders, to seek repairs and find a mentor. He ran into Sano Babu Sunuwar, whom Lakpa had met years earlier on Island Peak. Babu repaired the glider and the two men hatched the plan for the Ultimate Descent.

They would climb to the world’s highest point, launch a paraglider and fly for as long as possible, bicycle to a point where streams gathered into rivers, kayak across the Nepali border into India, and paddle the Ganges River all the way to the Indian Ocean. It would be an unprecedented first, but it was the overall combination of sports, audacity, and friendship that drew the duo to the idea. Babu, 28, had no climbing experience. Lakpa, 39, had never kayaked and didn’t even know how to swim.

In April of 2011, the duo had borrowed gear, slapped a basic plan together, and began their ascent of Everest. On May 21, they became the third party to launch a paraglider from the summit and set a new world record of 8,865 meters for free flight in the process. On the Kosi River’s Class V rapids, Babu got caught recirculating in a massive whirlpool in their two-man kayak, while Lakpa floated down river. Once they reached the Ganges, they paddled flatwater through unfamiliar country. They were robbed at knifepoint and had to live off fruit trees. After 850 kilometers, Lakpa and Babu reached the Bay of Bengal. On June 27, they became the first people to complete the descent from Everest’s summit to the Indian Ocean.

“When we arrived on the beach, we were frightened. We were surrounded by giant red scorpions,” says Babu. Later after showing pictures to friends, he would learn that these “scorpions” were in fact harmless crabs.

The Ultimate Descent team earned recognition from the international paragliding community, and the Nepali press hailed them as national heroes. Western adventurers admired their spunk, simplicity, and bare-bones budget. There were no social media campaigns, corporate sponsors, or expedition websites, just the essential ingredients for adventure—vision, creativity, and friendship.

—Fitz Cahall


Adventure: Babu, as a kayaker and paraglider, what was the most difficult part of the journey?

Sano Babu Sunuwar: On Everest I felt a great deal of discomfort. It was hard to breathe. Lakpa told me, “You are Sherpa. Be strong.” I am not a climber, but this was a great dream of mine to climb Mount Everest. Lakpa had done this many times. He helped me a great deal.

A: What was the most intimidating part of the journey?

Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa: The bugs. The ants. All animals—so active. Insects—so active. They are also busy. People so active. In the mountains, all creatures move slowly. In India, all the animals and the people move so fast. They are not still. I did not like the bugs. When we reached the ocean and took the kayaks to shore, the beach was covered in giant red scorpions. I was scared then, but we learned later that they were crabs and harmless. I also had a hard time breathing in the low elevation.

A: While the flight from Mount Everest might be the most eye-popping part of your adventure, it sounds like the Ganges and India were also difficult?

SBS: Sometimes whole villages would come down. We were robbed. They came with knives. We protected the camera, but gave them money. They left, but we paddled very fast. We could hear them coming with a motorboat. We found an island with tall grasses and hid. We slept in the kayaks the whole night. LTS: We ate fruit from the trees, but the water was bad. We were not used to seeing dead bodies. In Nepal, we burn our dead. In India, they are put in the river. We would see two or three bodies a day.

A: For each of you, was there a favorite part of the journey?

SBS: Taking off from the highest point in the world. At first it was really windy, but the wind calmed. When we lifted off we were carried immediately upward.

LTS: The flight. I like to sing while I fly. We were very happy. We were both singing. This was a dream for both of us.

A: The "ultimate descent" earned you some attention both in Nepal and abroad. There was a short film made about your flight. What has it been like to be recognized for your achievement?

SBS: We love getting to share our dream. We came to Europe to show the film at a film festival. We feel a little like movie stars. People wanted to shake our hands. We were very happy to share our story.

LTS: When we got home, we were very excited to share our story not just with Nepal, but all over the world. It felt like a million people. There were a lot of foreigners who came to set records. We weren’t after a record, we just wanted to do all these things, climbing, paragliding, kayaking in one continuous trip.

(Courtesy: National Geographic http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com

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Nepal’s local eateries

A typical Kathmandu bhatti – a sort of Nepalese speakeasy -- has minimal décor and is fairly hard to find. The signature drink, a rice-gin concoction known as raksi, or aiyla, is well more than 50% alcohol and costs just 40 Nepali rupees for a double shot.

Most tourists who visit Nepal rarely get a taste of this Newari social scene, opting instead to dine at more mainstream restaurants. But hidden in and around Kathmandu’s nameless alleys are countless traditional bhatti serving rice-based home brew and various buffalo meat snacks, often in historic (albeit rather gloomy and timeworn) settings. For the Newar people, whose culture dominates the older parts of Kathmandu, going out to eat and drink revolves around sampling the same foods that are used in traditional Tantric ceremonies, a ritual that is integral to the Newar’s blend of Hinduism and Buddhism. Buffalo meat, “beaten rice”, ginger, soybeans, dried fish and boiled eggs are collectively known as samaybaji, each symbolizing different offerings to the gods.

One of the best places to sample this traditional cuisine is in the bhattis of Patan, Kathmandu’s twin city, across the Bagmati River. In the ancient unnamed lanes around Durbar Square, any low doorway with a greasy green curtain leads to a bhatti, offering the best (or the worst) of the hostess’s Newari cooking in an environment of smoky, picaresque charm. Apart from the formidable aiyla, there is also chyang, a milky rice beer which tastes faintly like cider. In Kirtpur, an historic town just outside Kathmandu’s main ring road, Newari cuisine is getting a boost from Newa Lahana, a community co-operative located near the Uma Maheswar temple. To find it, head to the western end of the small hilltop town and ask directions. Diners sit on straw mats on the floor of the unfinished concrete building and look out over the hills and fields that disappear under the encroaching urban sprawl.

Back in Kathmandu, where most streets do not have names or have names that no one uses, the cold winter days call for tongba, a warm drink originating in the mountainous north, a favourite of many hill tribes. Tongba appears as a large pot of fermented millet grains. Drinkers pour hot water over the grains and drink it through a straw, which blocks the millet. One of the most popular tongba spots in the city is the Small Star Restaurant, located on an alley full of shops selling cloth and cotton thread, just off Thahiti Square, one block south of the tourist district, Thamel. Sitting around a flask, topping up your drinks and eating buffalo chilli is a fine way to pass the afternoon. On a cold day, expect this place to be packed upstairs and down.

Halfway along New Road there is a street leading south, with an Everest Bank on the corner. About 70m down on the left side, there is water pipe that has been adopted as a shiva linga (a phallic symbol that represents the god Shiva, ubiquitous throughout Hindu South Asia) and is covered with red powder. Above is a small sign for New Dish, a restaurant which serves only momo dumplings.

These steamed dumplings made of buffalo, chicken or mixed vegetables are popular and universal throughout Kathmandu. But New Dish is famous for one thing: pork momos. During lunch times and after work it is jammed with shop and office staff.

The bhatti may be hard to find, but it is worth the effort to go where the locals go, if only to say you have tried buffalo chilli and a glass of raksi or two.

(Courtesy: BBC Travel/ http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20120229-nepals-local-eateries)

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Sarad Pradhan     Asst. Editor: Sudhan Subedi

Media Center | Nepal Tourism Board

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