Fewer foreign trekkers this season: Entrepreneurs

Published On: October 27, 2019 10:00 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Oct 27: Tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara say that they are disappointed by foreign tourist footfalls this season.

They say that movement of foreign tourists is less compared to last year even during the main tourist season. According to entrepreneurs, the number of tourists coming for trekking is very low this year.

“We used to be very busy at this time in the past years. But things are different this season,” Binod Gurung, a tourism entrepreneur of Manang, told Republica. “Hotels in Manang – a popular stopover on the popular Annapurna Circuit trek – had to request guests to sleep in dining hall last year. But the movement of foreign trekkers is low this year,” he added. 

Arrivals of foreign trekkers are down by around 30% this season, added Gurung. 

October-November is regarded the best season for trekking in the Annapurna range. Local tourism entrepreneurs were hopeful of better business prospects this year as the country is celebrating Visit Nepal Year campaign next year. “But low footfalls have poured cold water on our hopes,” added Gurung.

Annapurna Circuit is popular among trekkers from all over the world. Last year, 26,500 foreigners had trekked the Annapurna Circuit, up from some 27,000 in 2017. In 2016, the circuit had welcomed some 22,000 foreign trekkers. Most of the trekkers do the complete circuit, starting from Manang side to reach Mustang after crossing Thorang Pass. Some, however, return after visiting Tilicho Lake. 

Babulal Tiruwa, chief of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Office in Manang, however, said that the number of trekkers has not declined. “The number of trekkers is more or less the same as last year. Entrepreneurs are worried because growth rate is slow,” Tiruwa added.

According to Tiruwa, Manang is seeing an average of 250 trekkers on a daily basis these days. Last month, it received some 250 trekkers every day.

Tourism entrepreneurs say many tourists postponed or canceled their Nepal trip this year due to factors like Dengue. 

Tiruwa of ACAP said some trekkers diverted to other areas as monsoon which was active for a longer period this year. “They feared there is a risk of flood and landslides in the mountains this year,” he added.

Dharma Raj Panthi, vice president of Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN), Pokhara, said the association expects trekker footfalls to come down by 20% this season. “As tourist arrivals in this season are low, it will surely affect trekking business,” he added. “Business in Pokhara is not so good this year,” Panthi said, adding: “Early trends show November will also not be as exciting as we have expected.”

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