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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Two check posts have been established along the popular Annapurna Circuit trek to provide weather updates and other related information to trekkers.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) opened the check posts after 40 trekkers and trekking support staff lost their lives due to blizzard in October. Experts say effective weather forecasting system could have reduced the casualty significantly.

The check posts have been established in Annapurna in Mustang section of the trail and Manang village in Manang section of the trail.

Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular trekking trails in the country. It begins from Besishahar in Lamjung district and concludes in Jomsom of Mustang. Some trekkers choose to elongate the trek by walking down to Beni in Myagdi district instead of taking a flight to Pokhara or a bus to Beni. The route is popular among foreign trekkers for splendid mountain view, pleasing weather, and timeless culture and tradition of local people.

According to ACAP officials, its personnel deputed at check posts will provide weather updates and other route information like walking distance, communication facilities, hotels and restaurants available on the route, among others, to trekkers. They will also advise trekkers not to advance forward if the weather is too bad.

Meanwhile, ACAP has also installed trail signs on Thorang La-Eklebhatti section — the most difficult section of the Annapurna Circuit trek.

Now that trail signs have been erected, ACAP officials say trekkers will not lose their trail even during heavy snowfall.

ACAP has erected around 100 such trail signs on the section. Similarly, efforts are underway to build trekking shelters on different parts of the trail.

Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) organized ‘TAAN Lhosar 2015? — a cultural and fun-filled event — in Thamel on February 17 to celebrate Lhosar.

Lhosar is the the New Year festival of different ethnic groups living in hilly and mountainous regions of Nepal.

A colorful procession was taken out at the beginning of the program. Different ethnic groups, mainly Sherpas, Tamangs, Gurungs and Magars, took part in the procession showcasing their traditional attire and jewelries. Artistes played traditional musical instruments like Madal, Tungna, Khaijadi and Damphu, among others, much to the cheers of foreign tourists roaming the streets of Thamel. The rally started from Tridevi Marg and passed through different parts of Thamel.

Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has decided to celebrate TAAN Lhosar Festival in Thamel on February 17.

Speaking at a press meet organized at TAAN Secretariat in Maligaun, TAAN officials said preparations for the festival were at the final stage.

In the past years, TAAN used to celebrate Lhosar festival by organizing ‘Lhosar Dinner Ball’ in different hotels. This year it is organizing the festival in Thamel – the tourist hotspot in Kathmandu Valley — to promote Lhosar festival as a cultural tourism product. The festival will see cultural performances of different ethnic groups like Gurungs, Tamangs and Sherpas, TAAN President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala told media persons.

The program will begin with a colorful procession from Sanchayakosh Building. The procession will pass through different thoroughfares in Thamel before culminating into a formal program at Tridevi Marg.

Traditional dances like Ghatu (Gurung), Tamang (Selo) and Syabru (Sherpa) will be performed on the occasion. Ganesh Himal Tourism Development Committee will organize a special ‘Mhendo La’ Dance in Thamel. Similarly, there will be food stalls at the event venue where different communities will serve their traditional cuisines, a press release issued by TAAN states.

The program will also see various entertainment and fun-filled programs like live concert, modern dances and DJ session, among others. Renowned artistes like Roj Moktan, Reshma Sunuwar, Jyoti Magar, Himal Ghale, Mausam Gurung, Jayabir Tamang, Arambha Tamang, Mingma Sherpa, Bhimu Gurung, Sanjay Gurung and AP Sherpa are scheduled to perform at the program. The event will also see DJ sessions by renowned DJ Tenzing and DJ Vicky (London).

“By organizing the festival in Thamel, we want to press the authorities not to limit night activities in Thamel. As a tourist hotspot, Thamel should operate round the clock,” TAAN General Secretary Sagar Pandey said.

Similarly, Kul Bahadur Gurung, coordinator of the festival, said TAAN will give continuity to the festival based on response from the participants.

TAAN plans to organize the festival every year on February 17 to promote it as a cultural tourism product.

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) on Sunday welcomed a new Airbus 200-320 aircraft to its international fleet.

The aircraft landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu at 4:30 pm. The aircraft was given water cannon salute as it touched down on the tarmac. Cultural troupe performed traditional music, while priests changed holy mantras. Priests also offered special worship as per the Hindu tradition.

The new aircraft has been named ‘Sagarmatha’ and it has received 9N-AKW call-sign from Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). This is the first of two Airbus A320-200 aircraft ordered by NAC. The second aircraft is arriving in April.

This is the first expansion in the national flag carrier’s international fleet in 27 years. NAC had last acquired a Boeing 757 aircraft in 1988.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Deepak Chandra Amatya, NAC Chairman Shiva Sharan Neupane, NAC Managing Director Madan Kharel, engineers of NAC and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and a representative of Airbus were on board the aircraft. The aircraft came to Nepal from Airbus plant in Hamburg via a brief stopover in Doha.

Addressing a formal program on Sunday evening, Minister Amatya said NAC was in desperate need of aircraft for international flights. He also said the new aircraft will enhance NAC’s service delivery and strengthen its brand.

Similarly, Managing Director Kharel said the national flag carrier would purchase a wide-body aircraft in the near future. He also told the program that NAC would start fly to New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Dubai and Guangzhou with the new aircraft.

The single-aisle jet is configured to carry 158 seats including eight in business class. It has Sharklet fuel-saving wing tip devices, which, according to Airbus, will deliver unbeatable economics and up to 4 percent reduction in fuel burn.

Silver Heritage Ltd of Hong Kong is planning to operate casino resorts in four locations along Nepal-India border including Bhairahawa.

The company is seeking to raise up to US$ 120 million, exclusive of fees, via a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), probably in March, according to a news report published in GGRAsia.Com – a news portal focused on Asian gaming industry.
“The Nepal casino market and the Sri Lanka gaming market are both focusing on attracting Indian players.  It is not a China story in the manner of casino resorts in places like South Korea. We feel that by seeking to invest in Nepal, we have picked the right market,” the portal quoted Tim Shepherd, executive director of Silver Heritage Ltd, as saying.

Silver Heritage will promote the gaming resorts under the brand ‘Tiger Palace’. The first Tiger Palace will open in Bhairahawa which is situated only a few kilometers from the Indian border.  It will have 300 rooms built over two phases, and will include conference facilities, restaurants, family entertainment and activity centers, wedding venues and a casino, according to the portal.
Silver Heritage expects to operate more than 500 table games and 2,000 electronic gaming machines at four Tiger Palace locations by 2018. Each location will have hundreds of hotel rooms featuring meeting, conference, wedding and entertainment facilities.
“The first one (Tiger Palace Bhairahawa) is fully funded and has a $25 million capital expenditure. It’s very simple [in layout], with 100 rooms, three villas and swimming pools. We will be looking initially to operate 50 tables and 250 slots per resort,” Shepherd said in the portal, adding, “We have about 8 hectares of land that we bought at different locations. The footprint of the first resort is probably about 3.5 hectares.”
Saying that the Indian middle class was currently underserved within India for all kinds of entertainment, he said: “Of the 400 million Indians who live along the 1,500-kilometer border India shares with Nepal, maybe 10 percent of them have true disposable income. That’s from official figures. Unofficially, who knows?”
“Indians are travelling vast distances for entertainment. There is a rising middle class. We previously ran a small border operation in Nepal with three tables and about 30 or 40 slot machines. The tables did about $500 per day, and the slot machines were probably $80 to US$90 each per day. People drove from Delhi to get to this small place,” he added.
Another positive factor, according to Shepherd, is that the border opens round the clock seven days a week.

Silver Heritage has received go ahead to operate a casino on the premises of Hotel Shangri-La, Kathmandu.
Happy World, a sister company of Silver Heritage, will operate the casino.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) gave final approval to the company to operate casino after inspecting infrastructures at the proposed venue.
Happy World has signed lease agreement with Hotel Shangri-La to operate casino in its premises.
Officials of Happy World said the casino will operate round the clock from Tuesday itself.
The casino is the first to receive license from the Department of Tourism (DoT) after the introduction of Casino Regulations about one and half years ago.