After some successful test flight by various paragliding pilots from Pokhara and Dharan, Dharan was first city in State 1 to start commercial paragliding service.
Tourism entrepreneur, Roshan Adhikari, started first commercial paragliding company named 'Dharan Sky Adventures' on October, 2015. Even after five years of operation, Adhikari said his company is in constant loss.
''In the early days, I was okay with loss as it was struggle period'', said Adhikari, now a chairperson of Dharan Sub-metropolis, Ward Number 1. ''It is a big headache to incur loss for half a decade.''
According to Adhikari cost of paragliding flight is discouraging potential local operators from Dharan and adjoining towns of Itahari, Biratnagar and Jhapa. Dharan doesn't get much foreign tourists other than neighboring Indian tourists from Bihar and West Bengal, said Adhikari, adding, ''They don't like adventure of paragliding quite often.''
Even locals are afraid of paragliding cost of Rs 6,000. Expensive pilot fees, lack of adequate local tandem pilots and taxes for governmental regulations and renew are contributing higher prices of paragliding flight, informed Adhikari.
''A pilot charges rupees 3,500 per flight and yearly renew cost of the company stands around rupees 350,000. This has compelled us to charge 6,000 per flight with photos and videos but all can't afford this fare,'' he said, explaining the high cost of paragliding flight.
Adhikari said he had been running his paragliding company just to give continuity to the nascent adventure tourism package in his hometown. ''Running a commercial company with few dozen domestic clients in a year is really troubling,'' said despairing Adhikari.
Owing to higher operation costs and lower passengers, commercial paragliding companies have not increased in State 1. Instead, commercial company like Budha Subba Paragliding has ceased its commercial operation.
Of late, various places of State 1 have been testing paragliding flights. Panchthar, Ilam, Dhankuta, Sankhuwasabha, Okhaldhunga, Udayapur have tested dozens paragliding flights. Belaka of Udayapur hosts a paragliding training centre. Still, there is no boom in commercial company and clients.
Some hope during VNY 2020
Against this tragic commercial scene of paragliding, some paragliding pilots are optimistic during Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020. Pilot Ram Rai from Dharan said scholarship to potential paragliding pilots could reduce flying costs.
''A pilot spends almost rupees 2 million to be a professional commercial pilot'', Rai reasoned behind higher flight fare. He added, ''If government produces some tandem pilots by giving scholarships to solo pilots, this will lower the flying fare which is affordable to commoners.''
Pilot Rai said that proper connectivity with Bangladesh and more advertisements in bordering Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bihar could bring in some success.
''Dharan is accessible by one-day drive from third country Bangladesh and can be reached within few hours vehicular travel from the borders of Sikkim, Bihar and West Bengal of India,'' Rai explained, ''such an easy access to an enormous markets must be explored by travel agencies and concerned governmental authorities as soon as possible.''
Source: National News Agency Nepal