Exorbitant fee puts tourism enterprises at risk

Kathmandu,Oct 31 : Poor condition of trekking route and exorbitant entrance fee have emerged as key challenges to the tourism development of Upper Mustang. Number of foreign tourists coming to the trans-Himalayan Upper Mustang has not increased despite full-wing preparation for Visit Nepal Year-2020. Keeping this in mind, locals have demanded operation of alternative trekking route, wider publicity and reduction of entrance fee.

There is a provision that foreigners should take approval from the Department of Immigration for the visit to upper Mustang – located at Lomanthang and Damodarkunda Lodheyakar rural municipalities along the bordering area of China. Besides, they should form a group of at least two visitors and pay entrance fee US$ 500 for 10 daylong stay.

In addition, the foreigners should furnish reason for prolonging the stay beyond 10 days and pay additional US$ 50 per day for extended stay. Ram Bahadur Gurung, a local hotel entrepreneur, complained that tourism enterprise has been grappling with crisis due to high entrance fee and procedural hassles. Around 50 resorts and hotels now are in operation in two rural municipalities having capacity to accommodate daily 500 guests. The resorts and hotels were constructed at the cost ranging from Rs 3 million to Rs 200 million.

There is increasing trend of establishing new hotels here. Though inflow of domestic is on the rise during vacation and festive season, it is not regular. According to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), score of foreign tourists reaching the upper Mustang in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was 3,918, 4,015 and 3,946. The year 2019 has also witnessed the similar trend regarding the influx of tourists to upper Mustang.

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