Pokhara, Nov 27 : The Pokhara folks, including tourism entrepreneurs, are excited about the upcoming 13th South Asian Games (SAG) as Pokhara is one among the venues where 8 games will be held.
It is for the first time Pokhara is hosting any sport event of such international level which has elated the locals, the tourism officials and tourism entrepreneurs alike. Out of 26 sports featuring the 10-day event, Pokhara will be one of the venues for games such as women cricket, football, beach volleyball, triathlon, badminton, weight lifting, handball and archery.
The popular tourism destination in the country is poised to host as many as 840 guests-650 players and 190 officials- from the SAARC-member countries, including Nepal, according to the Technical Committee Secretary, Balaram Lama.
Former President of Tourism Council Som Thapa viewed the upcoming mega sport event was an important opportunity to promote and boost MICE (meeting, incentive, conference and exhibitions) tourism in the city which is second after Kathmandu to attract highest number of foreign tourists.
Furthermore, additional number of technical delegates from various countries, tournament directors, referee, judges, national referee and technical assistants from several countries will also arrive Pokhara to conduct the sport event.
"Pokhara is early waiting for the guests of imminent 13th SAG," said Thapa, expressing his confidence that the event would establish Pokhara as potential place for sport tourism. Similarly, Pokhara Tourism Council Chairperson Chiranjivi Pokharel viewed that the 13th SAG would help promote Pokhara's tourism at international level since a large number of players, officials, foreign sports lovers and media persons will arrive to watch the event in the place of 'City of Lakes' fame.
He was of belief that the arrival of foreign guests would aid in promoting the various tourism destinations of Pokhara. The Western Regional Sports Development Committee Office Chief Laxmannath Yogi informed that all the 13th SAG related preparations, especially construction of physical infrastructures, were in the final phase.
Nepal Association of Tour and Travels (NATA)'s Western region Association's President Santosh Pokharel was confident that the 13th SAG's guests would help in mouth-to-mouth promotion of Pokhara's natural beauty and charm.
He pressed for the need for the tourism officials and entrepreneurs for utilizing this opportunity optimally through warm hospitality to the SAG guests. "Many countries in the world have made a stride internationally through the sport tourism," he argued.
Bishnu Gurung, a local, gushed that such a "big tournament" was going to be held in his hometown for the first time. "Such event would give an impetus to build infrastructures in Pokhara as well as the national players would also get an international exposure," opined Gurung, who himself is a sportsperson and coach of the Nepal National Futsal Team.