Every year, Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal (REBAN) hosts Pokhara Street Festival to bid adieu to the passing year and to welcome the coming New Year. This year too, REBAN has been busy inviting guests for the festival.
The 19th edition of the festival is all set to be organized on December 28, 2017 to January 1, 2018. According to President of REBAN Chau Bahadur Gurung, the street fest is one of the most prominent events held in Pokhara as it attracts domestic and foreign tourists in hoards.
“The number of tourists visiting Pokhara has sharply plummeted in the recent days. Hence, we have been inviting the public to visit Pokhara and to be a part of the festival. This is also a chance to celebrate the international New Year. We are also heading to Lumbini to do the same. Visitors from as far away as Kathmandu, Chitwan, Butwal, Bhairahawa and Lumbini, among other places throng to Pokhara for the festival every year,” said Gurung.
The street festival takes place every year at the three kilometers long street in Lake Side. As the flow of international tourists is low during this time of year, the festival helps the local entrepreneurs to cover their loss.
Talking about the festival, Vice-president of REBAN Laxman Baral said, “The street festival has helped to cover the loss that the local entrepreneurs incur during holiday season. The fest has also become a part of Pokhara’s identity as it adds to the city’s vibrancy during New Year celebrations.”
Former president of REBAN, Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai said, “This festival not only attracts domestic tourists but also becomes a party spot for international tourists. It also helps in promoting local culture as well as local products.”
My City team talked to Manager at Nepal Tourism Board, Pokhara, Surya Thapaliya, about the upcoming five-day festival.
How is Pokhara Street Festival different than any other festivals?
It has been around two decades that Pokhara is hosting this festival. The street fest is inspired by international festivals held in different parts of the world to welcome New Year. We mostly have internal tourists visiting Pokhara during this time of the year, and the festival becomes a platform for various businesses to earn some profit.
Who are your targeted visitors?
Pokhara is a popular tourist destination, for both international and national visitors. But the festival is especially targeted to domestic tourists as we want them to have a good time while they welcome the New Year. The fest helps in bringing out the celebratory lifestyle of Pokhara residents and it is a joyous event. Our aim is to make the visitors extend their stay through the festival.
Despite having a history of two decades, why do you think the festival has not been able to attract international tourists?
We have not been able to widely promote the festival. Many international street festivals are organized in a large scale and the organizers spend a lot in promotion. We neither have such huge budget nor have the resources, which is a weakness on our part. But we do plan to invite international artists to perform at the festival so as to attract external tourists. However, this festival is known among Indian tourists and we have been successful to attract them in a large number.
What is the role of Tourism Board in the street festival?
We have been looking after the festival’s promotional aspect, and we are supporting the event with whatever we can. The fest is an opportunity not only for local businesspersons but also for Pokhara residents and the Tourism Board as it helps in promoting the local culture among visitors.