KATHMANDU, March 13: The spring season is the time when maximum mountaineering activities take place in the country. However, the fear of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has directly hit the mountaineering right at the outset of the main season in which the government earned millions of rupees from mountaineering royalty.
The country's tourism sector has been already badly hit by the global spread of the coronavirus disease. All climbing activities during the spring season have been suspended this time which is again a blow to the tourism sector as mountaineering is the main source of income in the sector.
This has created a situation in which the country will be losing revenue equivalent to nearly Rs 600 million annually from mountaineering.
The state will lose nearly Rs 500 million with the suspension of mountaineering in the single spring season alone.
The Department of Tourism, Mountaineering Section said revenue worth Rs 496.8 million was collected from mountaineering royalty in the spring season last year. This included the royalty for climbing Mt Everest as well. Revenue worth Rs 442.3 million was collected as royalty from mountaineers climbing Mt Everest alone.
It was expected that a significant amount of revenue would have been collected from mountaineering royalty this spring as well.
According to the Tourism Department, revenue worth Rs 560 million was collected from mountaineering royalty in all seasons last year. The target was to collect Rs 600 million this year. The foreign climbers have to pay 11,000 US Dollars as royalty for climbing Mt Everest in the spring season. The same is for 5,500 US Dollars for the autumn season and 2,750 US Dollars for the summer season.
Similarly, the Nepali mountaineers have to pay Rs 75,000 as mountaineering royalty in the spring season, Rs 37,500 in the autumn season and Rs 18,250 in the summer season. Altogether 918 climbers had taken permission for climbing Mt Everest in the spring season of 2019. Out of them, 644 climbers made it to the summit of the world's tallest peak.
The Coronavirus Control High-level Committee had, on Thursday, decided to suspend all mountaineering activities in the spring season as a precaution in view of the coronavirus global pandemic.
The Department of Tourism has issued a notice based on this decision stating that all mountaineering activities for this spring season have been put off.