Haze affects arrival of tourists in Ghandruk
Haze has covered Kaski for the past one week. It has been more than one week that mountains visible from here are not seen clearly.
The main reason the tourists visit this area is to see the mountains up-close, but the mountains and hills here are covered with haze since New Year. Arrival of tourists has been affected due to this.
Pabitra Sapkota of Chitwan, who reached a touristic village, Ghandruk, on the occasion of New Year was not happy after she was no could not see the mountains due to haze.
She said, “We had heard that mountains could be seen closely from Ghandruk. So we made plan to visit the place with an excitement to see mountains closely. But our excitement ruined after we were not able to see mountains closely and clearly following haze.”
Sapkota, however, shared that they found Ghandruk more beautiful than their imagination.
Similarly, hotel entrepreneur Kisam Gurung said they are not happy as people visiting Ghandruk are returning without seeing mountains due to haze.
“Ghandruk is rich in beauty and culture. Many tourists visit Ghandruk for this. But tourists visiting Ghandruk on the occasion of New Year returned without seeing mountains”, he added.
Chairperson of Ghandruk Tourism Management Committee Bikram Gurung opined that number of tourists visiting Ghandruk has decreased due to haze. A total of 2100 tourists visited Ghandruk on the first day of New Year. Now, the number of tourists visiting Ghandruk is around 300 per day.
The impact of fog has also been seen in Pokhara. Hazy atmosphere has dented the tourism sector which was about to rebound with the New Year after being hit by COVID-19 pandemic.
The occupancy in hotels around Lakeside was about 90 percent in the first week of April, a week before the commencement of the Nepali New Year 2080 BS, but it has dropped to 30 percent at present, said Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) Pokhara’s president Laxman Subedi.
According to him, the tourism sector faced much loss due to the haze. Flights to the ‘lake city’ were disrupted due to the haze just as tourism entrepreneurs expected visitors’ inflow and tourism suffered from it.
“Many domestic tourists were preparing to come to Pokhara during this time. Our estimation is that at least 5,000 tourists were affected in a week’s time. Everything was ruined as the flights were affected and the tourism sector suffered loss of millions of rupees in lost business,” he said.
According to him, road widening work is underway in Pokhara-Muglin highway at present and as the roadway is dusty and travel takes long, the tourists mostly preferred to take flights to Pokhara due to this.
“Visitors wishing to come here by air have not been able to come due to the disruption in flights. Guests who had booked hotels have not been able to travel to Pokhara in time. So, the hotel occupancy has drastically dropped,” lamented Subedi.
Bikram Gautam, Chief of Pokhara International Airport, said flights to and from Pokhara have been affected almost daily due to the dense haze. All scheduled flights were operated only last Monday in a week. “Planes could not land and takeoff due to low visibility.
It was the case not only in Pokhara, but also in Dhangadhi, Biratnagar and Simara,” Gautam said. As he said, a 3,700 metres visibility is required for operation of flights in Pokhara Airport.