SOLUKHUMBU, Oct 15: With an increase in the number of tourists visiting Solukhumbu, number of flights operating at Khumbu Airport has increased. There are more than 100 flights operating from the airport every day.
“The number of tourists has increased since October with the beginning of the tourist season,” said Yogendra Kunwar, manager of Lukla airport.
Tara Air, Summit Air, Sita Airlines, and helicopters of other airlines have been operating flights to Lukla airport. Among the airlines, Tara Air has been operating the largest number of flights to Lukla. During the tourist season, Lukla airport always gets busy, said Phunuru Sherpa, Lukla in-charge of Tara Air.
In this peak season, around 500-700 tourists fly to Lukla from Kathmandu every day. Not only is there rush at the airport, hotels in Lukla are also crowded with huge number of guests.
Toya Shrestha, a hotelier of Lukla, said: “In October, the pressure of tourist arrival is high. We are in rush to serve our guests.”
“We are delighted to welcome such a large number of guests,” he added.
Most of the tourists coming to the Khumbu region land at the Tenzing Hilari Airport of Lukla, flying from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) of Kathmandu. Some of the tourists walk to Namche from Phaplu. Tourists have started to arrive at Khumbu since mid-September.
Since the tourist arrivals are increasing, security also has been beefed up in the district, said Nawaraj Neupane, police inspector at Area Police Office Namche. “The number of tourist police is not enough,” Neupane said: “So we have deployed more police personnel in areas that require more vigilance.”
Generally, tourist arrivals go up from mid-September to mid-November. At other times of the year when there are no tourists, hoteliers travel to other places for business. They return to Khumbu during the peak season. Almost 25 percent of total domestic flights land at the Lukla airport during this peak season. According to tourism entrepreneurs, this is the perfect time to witness the natural beauty of Solukhumbu. Moreover, there is less risk of high altitude sickness around this time.
Mingma Sherpa, a local, said: “This year we got an opportunity to welcome guests even before the tourist season started. If the flow of tourist goes on like this, then we expect tourist arrivals to be quite a lot this year.”