POKHARA, Dec 4: Tourism entrepreneurs and concerned authorities in Ghachowk VDC of Kaski district have come together to develop Pokhara city as a popular destination for vulture watching.
According to restaurant entrepreneurs, Ghachok, which has already gained much popularity among vulture watchers, can turn into a popular tourist hub if entrepreneurs and authorities work together.
Around two years ago, with the assistance of locals, Vulture Conservation and Management Committee had opened vulture restaurants in Ghachowk, which enabled the visitors to view endangered vultures in their natural habitat.
“If we can attract more tourists for rare views of vultures, tourism in this area will certainly peak in a very short period of time,” said a local entrepreneur.
Currently there are six vulture viewing restaurants operating in Ghachowk.
Basanta Dawadi, a local involved in tourism business, shared that establishing home stay facilities at local level can also increase tourism in the area. “Promoting home stay culture in the area can give a boost to the campaign,” said Dawadi.
As a proof of popularity of vulture viewing activities, Rabilal Pokharel, the coordinator of Ghachowk Vulture Conservation and Management Committee, shared that the committee has encouraged adding of extra vulture viewing compartments in the restaurants that are already operating in Ghachowk.
“Whole village will benefit if tourist inflow increases. Once tourists become familiar with the vultures here, this area will turn into an impressive and welcoming tourist destination,” said Pokharel.
Promising full support to the effort, Surya Bahadur Bhujel, chairman of the Pokhara Tourist Council (PTC), said, “This initiative has my full support in any form,” said Bhujel.
However, cost of visiting Ghachowk is a major deterrent for tourists. The royalty imposed by Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and Trekking Agencies´ Associations (TAN) adds to the overall expenses, forcing many tourists to have a second thought about visiting the area.
“If you add the royalty amounts for ACAP and TAN and the transportation cost, total expenses of visiting vulture restaurants can reach up to Rs 5,000 per tourist. This has turned out to be a major hindrance for many tourists,” said Bhujel.
Senior Conservationist with ACAP Nar Bahadur Aamghai acknowledged that the royalty was indeed high. “But, when both tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara city and the locals are to benefit from this, we are always ready to help,” said Aamghai.
The vulture viewing restaurants in Ghachowk lies around 11 km north of Pokhara city. “In order to feed vultures, we have been rearing aged domestic animals near the restaurant,” said Pokharel.
Pokharel informed that the number of vultures have increased in the area with the rise in the number of the restaurants.