The Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park (SNNP) on the outskirts of Kathmandu has of late become a major tourist attraction.
The protected area was visited by more than 214,000 people in the fiscal year 2016-17, a record number in the last 13 years. In 2015-16, the SNNP had received 143,352 tourists.
Chief Conservation Officer Kamal Jung Kunwar attributed the rise in number of tourists in the SNNP, established in 1989, to its proximity to Kathmandu Valley.
“As this is the nearest protected area from the Capital, people come here on weekends to spend quality time with family and friends. The SNNP provides a quality escape from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and respite from pollution,” said Kunwar. “The SNNP has been popular among internal tourists for hiking, sightseeing and other weekend adventures.”
The SNNP is home to about 318 species of birds and 102 species of butterflies besides wildlife like leopard, wild boar, bear and wild cat.
Besides, the SNNP’ religious significance among Hindus and Buddhists also brings in more tourist to the park, according to Kunwar.
Bagdwar, Jamacho, Naagi Gumba and Taarebhir are some of the important religious sites inside the SNNP.
The park also offers a stunning view of the Himalayan range and is gateway to Helambu, Sundarijal and Chisapani.
In the last fiscal year, the SNNP collected Rs 23.5 million in revenue. Of the total revenue, Rs 22.8 million was generated from entry fees from tourists.
The SNNP is a good example of how protected areas help the tourism sector.
The Chitwan National Park (CNP), which is also famous for domestic tourists, however, sees higher number of foreign tourists. The CNP earned around Rs 220 million as it welcomed around 139,000 tourists in the fiscal year 2016-17, up from 87,391 in the previous fiscal year 2015-16, becoming the highest revenue earner for the year.
The CNP is home to 125 tigers and 605 one-horned rhinos.
“The Chitwan National Park is the hotspot for wildlife tourism, which is gaining popularity worldwide. This park has made its famous among foreign tourist as well. This is world’s one of the most popular sites for rhino tourism,” said Nurendra Aryal, information officer of the CNP.
The CNP charges Rs 1,500 and Rs 100 exclusive of vat for foreign and Nepali tourists as entry fees respectively and Rs 4,000 for every safari vehicle going inside the park.
“More than 90 per cent of our income is from tourists while charges for boating, filming inside the park and fines account for the remaining income,” added Aryal.
Protected areas in low-lying plains which host major wildlife like tiger, elephants and rhino receive more visitors.
The Bardiya National Park (BNP), which has the second highest population of tiger with 62 adults and 13 cubs, has also seen a rise in number of visitors in recent years.
Nearly 18,000 tourists--12,000 domestic and 6,000 foreign--visited the BNP last fiscal year, through which the park earned Rs 31.6 million in revenue. The arrival of tourists to the park went up by a staggering 80 per cent compared to 2015-16 when a total of 10,638 tourists visited the park, said BNP Chief Conservation Officer Ramesh Thapa.
The BNP had earned Rs 24.4 million in 2015-16 through tourists. Tiger sightings are easier in the BNP, making it one of the favoured protected areas among tourists.
The Parsa National Park (PNP), which was declared a national park earlier this year, however, has not been able to maintain the pace when it comes to attracting tourists.
The park nonetheless has recorded a good growth of tiger population in recent years, with the number of adult wild cats currently standing at 19. Tourist arrivals at the PNP have been low for years.
According to the PNP, around 235 tourists visited the park in the fiscal year 2015-16. In 2016-17, the park received nearly 200 tourists, said PNP Chief Conservation Officer Hari Bahadur Acharya. “We are focusing on more promotional activities to bring in more visitors to the park. Now it has got the status of a national park, we hope more tourists in coming years,” said Acharya.
Footfalls and revenue (2016-17)
National park Visitors Earning
Shivapuri Nagarjun 214,000 Rs 23.5 million
Chitwan 139,000 Rs 220 million
Bardiya 18,000 Rs 31.6 million
Parsa 200 N/A