The weather in Pokhara on Monday, on the occasion of World Tourism Day, was very clear from early morning. Coincidently, VIP delegates including ambassadors of 11 different countries had reached Pokhara for a tour a day earlier at the invitation of Gandaki Province government.
The Gandaki Province government organized around three-hour hiking from Nagdanda of Annapurna Rural Municipality to Kaskikot for sightseeing of natural beauty and observing local culture for the visitors.
Mountains including Machhapuchhre, which were shining from early morning following clear weather, had started playing hide and seek with the cloud when the delegates reached Nagdanda at 9:00 am. Upon reaching there the dignitaries were very happy to witness the beauty of the Himalayan range.
It was the first visit to Pokhara for UNESCO Representative to Nepal, Michael Croft. Although he had listened to Pokhara but had not got an opportunity to visit the lake city.
Participating in the hiking, he was seen busy capturing the attractive environment from Kaskikot. He said, “I like to enjoy culture along with natural heritages. Nepal has all these things. The natural beauty of Pokhara is very alluring. “
Croft assured of visiting Pokhara again soon with his family, adding the COVID-19 had forced people to limit themselves to houses and refrain from traveling. Now we all should visit different places by adopting health safety protocols.
Pointing out that the concerned sector should lay emphasis on the development of tourism, he mentioned that COVID-19 has added challenges along with opportunities.
Similarly, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal, Pretti Anttinen, said the Macchapuchchhre Mountain had fascinated him when he saw it soon after he woke up.
Sharing that he had visited Pokhara three years ago, he mentioned that Pokhara is one of the places he wanted to visit time and again. The Ambassador further said, “Pokhara is a special place compared to other places of Nepal. I have made a plan to visit this place again after Tihar. I will go for trekking of Annapurna region.”
Likewise, SAARC Secretary-General Esala Ruwan Weerakoon said the visit with officials from Sri Lankan diplomatic mission was very fruitful. "Pokhara is my favorite place. We are grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nepal Tourism Board for giving us this opportunity," Weerakon said.
Stating that Sri Lanka and Nepal have a lot in common in terms of culture and religion, the SAARC SG said that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the economies of South Asian countries as well as the tourism sector. Mentioning that the citizens of Sri Lanka also like Nepal and know it as the country of Buddha, he said that he is also a Buddhist.
Stating that tourism can be developed in Nepal by connecting cultural and religious tourists, Weerakoon shared that Kathmandu-Colombo flight will be operated every Tuesday and Saturday from this October.
Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, Commerce, and Supplies of Gandaki, Gyanendra Poudel, said that the visit of diplomats including foreign ambassadors to Pokhara would be important for the development of tourism. He said the visit was believed to be fruitful to bring the Corona-affected tourism back to normal.
The Chairperson of the Pokhara Tourism Council Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai said that the visit would spread the message that Pokhara is open and safe to visit. Stating that the program organized on the occasion of World Tourism Day would have a significant impact on the world tourism market, he said that it has made all the Pokhara tourism entrepreneurs enthusiastic.
Kashiraj Bhandari, chief of the Nepal Tourism Board's Gandaki state office in Pokhara, said that the high-level visit was an important opportunity for the people. He said that the visit of foreign diplomats would help in the promotion of tourism in Pokhara.