Himalayan Air Festival to revive tourism in Nepal

Kathmandu, Sep 28 (IANS) Nepal’s tourism hub Pokhara is trying to help revive the Himalayan nation’s tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the April 25 earthquake.

For two days, tourists and locals alike were treated to a once-in-lifetime spectacle over the sky during the first Himalayan Air Festival, Xinhua reported.

The Himalayan Air Festival-Garud Fun 2015 was a fiesta of air adventures and fun organised for the first time in Nepal.

Exhibitions during the festival, which coincided with World Tourism Day on Sunday, included air sports like paragliding, para-motor flights, ultra light flights, hot air balloon and aerial acrobatics.

Sovit Baniya, organiser of the event and acting chairman of Nepal Air Sports Association, said the air festival was the first of its kind not only in Nepal but also in South Asia.

“Through the event, we want to disseminate the message that Nepal is still safe after the earthquake since 90 percent of tourism destinations in the country are intact,” Baniya said.

The massive earthquake that devastated Nepal on April 25 had a huge impact on the country’s tourism industry with an estimated lost income of around $768 million.

A total of 790,118 tourists had visited Nepal in 2014, but this year tourist arrivals are expected be much less.

Baniya said the air festival is expected to encourage foreign tourists to visit the landlocked Himalayan nation.

“Despite the quake, tourism destinations in Nepal are safe and still beautiful,” Nepal’s Minister for Culture and Tourism Kripasur Sherpa said during the opening of the festival on Saturday.

The event used “Garuda”, which means flying God in Hindu mythology, as its theme.

Pokhara is the fifth commercial paragliding destination in the world with a breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains, green hills and placid waters of the Fewa lake.

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