News from Nepal and Bhutan
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Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to resume Delhi flights with new Airbus

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has said it plans to resume services on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector in mid-March with at least two flights daily. Industry watchers expect airfares to drop with the national flag carrier flying the Delhi route once again. NAC said its new Airbus A320-200, which is in the final stages of completion, would be flown on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector first. The carrier recently issued a notice to appoint general sales agents (GSA) in Delhi. Similarly, NAC said that the frequency on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector would be doubled to 14 flights weekly as soon as the new planes arrive.

Nepal-Lanka Air Links Set to Resume by February

Two Airbus A320-200 aircraft, ordered by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), are in the final stage of production. Issuing a statement, NAC said Direct air links between Nepal and Sri Lanka are set to resume after a break of two and a half decades with Colombo-based carrier Mihin Lanka planning to begin services by February. The initiative to operate flights is also part of the leaders' commitment to link all the SAARC capitals with direct flights. He added that direct air links would boost Nepal's tourism as visitors from Sri Lanka are expected to grow in this year. Malaysia-based Malindo Air, Dhaka-based Regent Airways and Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines have applied for operation authorization. All the three carriers plan to operate daily flights to TIA from their respective hubs. At present, TIA is served by 26 international airlines.

International Passenger Movement Through Nepal Up By 12.73%

The total number of international air passengers arriving and taking off from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) increased by 12.73 percent over the first 10 months of 2014. According to the data of TIA, a total of 2.88 million air passengers flew to different international destinations from January to October, up from 2.55 million in the same period of 2013. The data shows that number of foreign tourists visiting the country is increasing. According to United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism is set to hit a new record in 2014 with over 1.1 billion international tourists traveling the world in one single year. During the first ten months of 2014, the number of international tourists grew by 5 percent, rising above expectations, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Hotel de I' Annapurna to be rebranded

Hotel de l' Annapurna will be rebranded under the five-star Dusit Thani brand as the developer of Annapurna and Dusit International inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to run the hotel under the Dusit Thani Annapurna Hotel brand. Dusit International, which is based in Thailand, is a leading Asian hospitality group. The MoU in this regard was signed by Shreejana Rana, executive director of Hotel de l' Annapurna and Rustom Vickers, group director - development, Dusit International, in the presence of Kanthong Unakul, ambassador of Thailand to Nepal. The Dusit Thani Annapurna Hotel, Kathmandu will be positioned to become an iconic local hotel of an international calibre, offering around 230 guest rooms, a variety of restaurants, recreational facilities and large banqueting spaces.

Celebrating 35th Birth Anniversary of the Fifth King of Bhutan (21st Feb)
Bhutan – Gross National Happiness will celebrate 35th birthday of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth and current reigning Druk Gyalpo or "Dragon King" of the Kingdom of Bhutan. He was born on 21st Feb 1980. After his father Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in his favour, he became the King on 9 December 2006. The celebration will be held at the National stadium in Thimphu. The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on Feb 21, 2015 will celebrate the birthday of its revered "Dragon King" in a swirl of colourful dances and traditional music.

Bhutan International Marathon 2015
The Bhutan International Marathon after a great success in 2014 is a long awaited and the most exciting long distance event in South Asia. Snaking through breath taking countryside and awe inspiring buildings, experience a meditative serenity that is difficult to find elsewhere. This year February 23rd, 2015 is the day for the Bhutan International Marathon and Half Marathon in one of the world's most mysterious, beautiful and inaccessible countries. The beautiful Punakha Dzong is the finishing point for both the events.

Bhutan International Festival
The First Bhutan International Festival will be held in Thimphu from February 14 to 23. The 10-day festival will celebrate Bhutanese music, culture and arts. The festival will be organised also to commemorate the 35th birth anniversary of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and the 'Visit Bhutan Year 2015'.

The festival will enable local artists and musicians to collaborate with international counterparts.

Punakha Drubchen & Punakha Tsechu, Punakha
23 February – 2 March 2015
The Punakha Drubchen is a unique festival that hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. Unlike the annual festival called the tshechu, the Punakha Drubchen is a dramatization of how the local Bhutanese militia duped and defeated invading Tibetan army.

The Punakha Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padmasambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas.

The culmination of festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thangka, a sacred scroll, depicting Guru Padmasmabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.