The Embassy of the Russian Federation has been supporting the Visit Nepal Year 2020 tourism campaign since the very start of the campaign. During SKATE NEPAL, the Figure Skating and Ice Hockey Exhibition that took place in Gokyo Lake III on February 14, two Russian Ice Hockey players, Dmitriy Dudarev and Aleksandr Chekashev, who played in various leagues and Sergey Voronov, a figure skater from Russia who is the winner of the 2017 ISU Grand Prix NHK Trophy participated. Similarly, the Embassy of Russia was able to have a team of Karate Champions to visit Nepal and have a show along with collaborating with Karate teams from the Police, Army and Nepal Karate Federation. The Embassy has felt that Nepal can be developed and promoted as an adventure sports tourism destination. Along this line, recently, Mr. Marat Nevlutov, who is one of the yachting champions of Russia visited Nepal to explore the opportunities for yachting and rafting activities. We caught up with Mr. Nevlutov to talk about his experience.
Q: Given that you are an international champion and much-celebrated sportsman in Russia, what motivated you to visit Nepal.
A: First of all, I would very much like to thank his excellency Ambassador of Russia to Nepal and the Embassy of this country for inviting me to Nepal. As this year is a national tourism campaign year of Visit Nepal Year 2020, they have invited the best sportsmen of Russia to Nepal to show its beauty (and that’s how I am here).
Q: The Embassy of Russia has been providing immense support to Nepal, especially during the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign. As a repeated Yachting Champion of the Soviet Union, what possibilities do you see in Nepal regarding the sport?
A: I would like to make it very clear that we aren’t only talking about yachting but also exploring rafting capabilities taking into account that rafting is an Olympic kind of sports. Nepal in this sense is a very attractive country. It has infrastructures with huge mountains and rivers and hence (good) capacity in this kind of sport. Therefore, I would like to say that we would be promoting Nepal as a rafting destination. Firstly, Nepal could be a base for young Russians and secondly, I would also invite Nepali counterparts for the different international competitions since the country can be a nice base and could be a place to organizing competitions. And I think it is also very important to note that in spite of the fact that there is no sea in this country, yachting and rafting can be done in Nepal. For example, Qatar and Switzerland have no sea but developed yachting sports. They developed teams in other countries. And now are competing.
Q: Nepal has a huge scope to develop as an adventure sports tourism destination, especially water-based. What could be done in collaboration with the Nepali counterparts for this?
A: I believe that the relation between the two countries in adventure sports is not only possible but also necessary. I believe that the knowledge of Nepal in our country is lacking and I think the Russian Embassy in Nepal and the Nepali Embassy in Russia could try to show Nepal to the Russian people and what we could do is organize the open championship of Russia in Nepal. This could definitely help to promote Nepal in our country. And we could rely on the help of the government of Nepal in organizing this championship. If this championship is organized then the Russian Federation would do its best since only some organizational help is needed. Since this is a really great base for training and championship because of high mountains and fast rivers, I can assure you that there are no any sportsmen who wouldn’t like to come here and train. And from my side, when I go back to Russia, I would definitely talk to the President of the Yachting Federation and we will talk about organizing some championship here. And I would also like to say my visit is very in line with the president’s policy in sports diplomacy. Bilateral visits regarding sports and culture are very important.
Q: Have you formed any plans regarding that?
A: When I came to Nepal, I thought we could try and organize in the coming months a small yachting race in one of the lakes in Nepal. Many people in Nepal worry that yachting isn’t viable in Nepal but it can be done in Moscow. In Moscow, the yachting race happens in a small pond. You can see the event on May 9, during the celebration of the common victory of World War II. I was thinking we could do the race here in one of the lakes, like maybe in Gokyo. In winter, you could do figure skate and ice hockey and in summer, there could be yachting. I am already talking about bringing small yacht with colleagues in Russia and that’s why I am here too. To look by myself and see how we can go on with this proposal.
Q: Any last say?
A: I think for many Russians, Nepal is still a big mystery and we like to solve and get to know the mysteries. Also, Nepalis are kind people and always smile. So my countrymen will definitely like it here.
Besides being one of the biggest supporters of the campaign by bringing in various personalities to Nepal, the Russian Cultural Center has also been conducting language classes for Nepali Tour Guides and training in Russian food to help in attracting Russian tourists. This will surely help to boost tourism and promote Nepal as a destination in Russia.