Tourist arrivals up in the Annapurna region

Tourist arrivals in the Annapurna region, one of the top 10 trekking routes in the world, reached an all-time high of 88,418 in 2010, up 10.67 percent from the previous year.

Of the total arrivals, 12,000 were from SAARC countries, said the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). According to ACAP records, 79,896 tourists visited the area in 2009, compared to 72,175 in 2008 and 60,274 in 2007.

ACAP information officer Devendra Thapa said that Annapurna Base Camp, Ghandruk, Ghodepani, Bhurung and Tatopani of Myagdi were among the main destinations for the tourists.

The Annapurna area saw the lowest arrivals of 36,000 in 2005 during the insurgency. “Although a motor road has been constructed, there is an increasing inflow of trekkers following the peace pact,” he said.

Tourism entrepreneurs have attributed this surge in arrivals to a decline in bandas and strikes and ACAP’s promotion campaign. “The major factor is peace,” said Tika Ram Sapkota, chairman of the Pokhara Tourism Council. “The promotion campaign also contributed a lot.”

Chairman of the Pokhara chapter of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) Som Bahadur Thapa said that better air service and relative peace had led to an increase in arrivals. “Tourist stay has increased due to homestay also,” added Thapa.

Spread over 7,000 sq km and encompassing Kaski, Mustang, Myagdi, Manang and Lamjung districts, the ACAP region offers stunning scenery and rich biodiversity. Around 3,000 types of plants, 478 species of birds and rare wildlife like the musk deer and Tibetan wolf are found here. The length of the Annapurna circuit has been slashed to nine days from 21 after the road was built.

The government declared the ACAP region a conservation area in 1993. Of the total tourist arrivals in Pokhara, 60 percent go trekking in the Annapurna region.

Visitors from SAARC countries have to pay an entrance charge of Rs 200 while tourists from other countries are charged Rs 2,000 per person. ACAP collected revenue mounting to Rs 155 million in 2010.(Source:ekantipur)

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