Apr 25, 2024

Reviving Splendor: The 17th Chitwan Elephant and Tourism Festival Returns to Sauraha

Reviving Splendor: The 17th Chitwan Elephant and Tourism Festival Returns to Sauraha

KATHMANDU, Dec 20:The much-anticipated 17th Chitwan Elephant and Tourism Festival is gearing up to unfold in the town of Sauraha, located at the entrance of Chitwan National Park. Scheduled to take place from December 26 to 30, the festival marks a revival after a four-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jointly organized by the Regional Hotel Association Nepal Sauraha, Chitwan, the United Elephant Operation Cooperative Organization, and the Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal, the event aims to rekindle interest in domestic and international tourism in Sauraha. The festival's venue, Mainahachaur, is set to be abuzz with activities designed to engage and entertain an increasing number of tourists. The Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Sudan Kirati, will inaugurate the festival, which is projected to cost a total of one crore eight lakhs.

Festival would contribute to the promotion of Nepal's tourism on the global stage. Notably, the festival has undergone some modifications this year, with the exclusion of the elephant race, elephant football, and elephant polo due to concerns raised by animal rights activists. However, the ever-popular elephant beauty contest, boat race, elephant feast, etc., have been retained as key attractions.

Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) President Binayak Shah acknowledged the challenges posed by the pandemic, leading to the festival's hiatus. He expressed optimism about the festival's revival, emphasizing the need for cooperation among all stakeholders to reinstate the significance of Chitwan's elephants and tourism, integral components of Nepal's international tourism development. He said that tourism in Chitwan as a whole cannot be imagined without elephants.

The event is not merely a celebration but a concerted effort to showcase Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and position the region as a vital tourist destination. General Secretary of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) Sajan Shakya emphasized the grand preparations underway, anticipating the festival's role in attracting visitors to the heart of Chitwan National Park.

The festival's agenda includes an insightful interaction session on the potential and challenges of Chitwan's tourism, emphasizing the roles of local government, businesspersons, and the tourism board in promoting the district as a tourism hub. Om Prakash Pandey, the coordinator of the main organizing committee, highlighted the importance of discussing strategies to enhance tourism while considering the interests of various stakeholders.

Youbraj Shrestha, treasurer of Hotel Association Nepal, stated at the press conference that the goal of this festival is to attract travelers through Chitwan National Park, which is on the World Heritage List, and to establish Chitwan's tourism region as an important destination. According to Shrestha, the festival's purpose is to promote tourism-related activities and local products on a national scale.

Madhav Duwadi, Treasurer of the Regional Hotel Association Nepal Sauraha, Chitwan, informed us that there will be 50 stall in the festival, which is estimated to receive 20,000 tourists daily. This year, they are also trying to promote programs through digital technology by discouraging plastic products.

There will also be daily cultural programs by national and local artists, information about the daily routine of elephants, promotion of local agricultural products, and honor and prize distribution programs for: pioneers, excellent nature guides, boat drivers, jeep safari drivers and various ship-art lovers.