The construction of the international airport in Pokhara is likely to displace paragliding, a matter of concern for paragliding entrepreneurs and paragliding enthusiasts.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has completed the construction of Pokhara’s regional international airport and is preparing to put it into operation from coming January. And accordingly, paragliding has been instructed to move out by choosing an option following the operation of airport.
This is likely to displace the business worth nearly one and a half billion rupees, say paragliding entrepreneurs. However, they have suggested paragliding should be managed and not displaced from the skies of Pokhara.
“Paragliding is now a brand of adventure tourism in Pokhara and there is no other place where tourists can enjoy flying like in the sky of Pokhara”, said President of Nepal Aviation Sports Association Sunil Bahadur Bhattarai. He said that if the government wants it can allocate time for paragliding.
“As much as we were excited about the construction of an international airport in Pokhara, now we are worried that our own business will be displaced somewhere along with the operation of the airport”, added Bhattarai.
Former chair of the Association Yogesh Bhattarai says Pokhara’s paragliding is among the top three in the world and is a suitable destination for adventure tourists. The authorities concerned have not taken special interest in this matter and addressed the concerns of those involved in the paragliding business.
Likewise, Pokhara Tourism Council Chair Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai says that if the adventure sport activities in Pokhara are stopped, the number of tourists visiting Pokhara may also decrease.
Paragliding started in the sky of Pokhara since 1996. Paragliding companies have been operating professionally since 2000. Currently, there is an investment of about 1.5 billion rupees in 60 companies in Pokhara. Around 2,000 people are reported to have been employed in this business.
There are 375 pilots with three paragliding flying schools, four ultra-light companies and one hot air balloon company.