The 13th Chitwan Elephant Festival kicked off in Chitwan with the participation of over 50 elephants and with an objective to improve its local tourism. The five-day event featured sports and beauty contests by the elephants that brought fun, sports and adventure in Sauraha’s Chitwan National Park.
Organised by Regional Hotel Association, Chitwan, the annual event focuses to bring humans closer with elephants, to encourage wildlife protection and conservation and to promote tourism in the region.
Nepalese Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said while inaugurating the festival, 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 added.
The event started with an elephant walk from the elephant breeding centre to a complete march in the entire village followed by a Tharu (local tribe of Chitwan) cultural show to the Bachauli ground in Sauraha.
For the first time in its history, the festival has introduced elephant polo, which is expected to draw huge number of foreign and domestic tourists. Elephant polo is often regarded as the most adventurous activity in the world. Besides, the festival has also featured cultural and entertainment programs along with boat and cart riding competition.
Keshav Pandey, media coordinator of the Regional Hotel Association, Nepal, informed, “Nepal is proof to the fact that a zero poaching percentage can be achieved, which has only been possible due to the strong commitment from the forest authorities to highest levels of ministers in the government to several conservation heroes like rangers and community anti-poaching patrols. This festival is a strong reminder of the zero poaching status here in our country and also helps boost our tourism industry.”
Chitwan is the third most popular tourism destination in the Himalayan country after Kathmandu, the capital city and Pokhara, the lake city.
According to the Chitwan Elephant Festival Coordinator, Suman Ghimire, tourist numbers had improved and as per a five-month data of Chitwan National Park, it shows that over 50,000 tourists have visited the region.