Nepal hosts elephant festival, seeks to revive tourism
Kathmandu, Dec 27 (IANS) The 13th edition of Nepal’s five-day Chitwan Elephant Festival kicked off here with the participation of over 50 elephants.
The annual festival which brings fun, sports and adventure together was inaugurated on Monday in Sauraha, the gateway to Chitwan National Park, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
The festival would feature unique and spectacular games like polo, football, fast-walk, beauty contest, picnic among others elephant participation.
The annual event has been organised by Regional Hotel Association Chitwan in order to bring humans closer with elephants, to encourage wildlife protection and conservation and to promote tourism in the region.
Inaugurating the fiesta, Nepalese Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said that these sorts of festivals play an important role in attracting foreign tourists.
“Chitwan is a pioneer hub for elephant adventures but still lack tourists as compared to other parts of the country.
“We need to attract more tourists from our neighbouring countries to boost the overall tourism industry,” Shahi said.
The tourism industry in Nepal was adversely affected by the devastating earthquake in 2015, he said.
“If we could invite just one per cent of population from the neighbouring countries India and China, it would be a big achievement for Nepal”, Shahi added.
Chitwan is the third popular tourism destination in the Himalayan country after the capital city Kathmandu and lake city Pokhara.
Though the region used to welcome nearly 200,000 tourists in a single year, the number has dropped to less than half after the disaster of 2015.
This year, the festival has introduced elephant polo for the first time in its history, which is expected to draw huge number of foreign and domestic tourists.
Elephant polo is often regarded as the most adventurous and rare activity in the world.
Besides, the festival has also featured cultural and entertainment programs along with boat and cart riding competition.
The five-day event will end on Friday.