Jeeps and other vehicles parked along the road in Jomsom of Mustang district, Tuesday. On Tuesday alone, around 4,000 domestic tourists visited the mountain district, according to local police. The visitor numbers have swelled because of the Dashain holidays. All Jomsom hotels and lodges are full. | Photo: Sushil Babu Thakali/Republica
POKHARA, Oct 25: Mustang, one of the popular tourist hubs of Nepal, is witnessing a significantly high number of domestic tourists this season. On Tuesday alone, almost 4,000 tourists arrived at Jomsom. Utilizing their Dashain holidays, nature lovers from across the country have reached the mountainous district to view its mesmerizing beauty.
The opening of the Beni-Jomsom road has added to the flow of visitors. The high number of tourists has benefited local entrepreneurs and hotel owners. Tuesday recorded the highest number of visitors this season, with 3,902 internal tourists, according to Dolendra Hamal, superintendent of Traffic Office Mustang.
Last Saturday, 1,542 tourists reached here. The number jumped to 3,000 on Sunday. On Monday it dropped to 1,643. Hamal further informed that 36 buses, 370 jeeps, 715 motorcycles and two tourist jeeps (green plates) arrived at Jomsom Tuesday. Likewise on Saturday, altogether 307 vehicles of different types brought in visitors.
“Managing such a large number of vehicles has been challenging,” said Hamal. Arrangement of accommodation has been equally difficult for local entrepreneurs.
Khagendra Tulachan, chairperson of Jomsom Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says number of internal tourists have swelled in the last three years. “Many visitors go through great ordeals for lack of rooms in hotels,” he added.
Those who had not booked their hotel rooms were found sleeping in buses. Indian tourists have added to the numbers. There are altogether 25 hotels in the district with 15 to 30 rooms each. All of them are occupied.
Around 40 percent of the tourists visited the Korola border, says Tulachan. “Earlier, tourists visited Mustang only for Muktinath but now they also reach Lomanthang, thanks to the popularity of the Korola border,” he further said.
Tulasi Dahal, conservation officer at Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), stated that in the past few years Mustang has become the most prioritized destination for domestic tourists. In the past, Mustang had relied highly on international tourists.
Earlier, short distance tourist destinations such as Pokhara, Lumbini and Sauraha used to be popular among tourists during the holidays but now this has changed. Dil Gautam, general secretary of Pokhara Tourism Corporation (PTC), informed that the number of tourists visiting Muktinath, Lomathang, Manang, Manaslu and Rara is impressive.
Tourists prefer visiting Mustang in between Dashain and Tihar because of the favorable weather. “It is not possible to visit the mountainous district during other seasons. This is a perfect time also because everyone gets long holidays,” said Gautam. He says he also planned to visit Mustang but had to cancel at the last moment for lack of accommodation due to extremely high number of tourists.