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Domestic adventure seekers throng Annapurna Circuit

- LAL PRASAD SHARMA, MUSTANG
Around 1,800 Nepali trekkers have been arriving daily since the start of the Dashain festival

Oct 28, 2016-The world famous Annapurna Circuit trekking route has been a big draw for foreign adventurers for decades, but now the scenic walking trail in the Annapurna mountains of central Nepal has been pulling domestic thrill seekers in droves too.

According to the police office in Mustang, around 1,800 Nepali trekkers have been arriving daily since the start of the Dashain festival. The Jomsom and Muktinath trekking trails are part of the Annapurna Circuit.

Upper Mustang, Thorung La Pass, Tilicho Lake in Manang and a number of places in the Annapurna foothills are major attractions for domestic tourists. “More than a dozen reserved vehicles enter Mustang daily,” said Yogendra Yadav, sub-inspector of the Ghasa Police Office in Mustang. “This year, domestic visitor numbers have been encouraging.”

All hotels on the route from Jomsom to Mustang are packed. “This year has been really surprising. We have not seen such a big number of domestic visitors,” said Mohan Kumari Serchan, the proprietor of Hotel Muktinath in Jomsom.

Bel Bahadur Pun, an official at the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (Acap) Jomsom, said that they didn’t keep records of Nepali vacationers visiting the area, but that their numbers were exceptional this year.

Tourism entrepreneurs said that the number of domestic tourists had been increasing by the day. They added that a rise in disposable incomes was one of the major reasons behind the motivation to see one’s country.

“I have been mesmerized by the beauty of Muktinath,” said Pabitra Thapa, a local of Lamachaur, Pokhara.

“It was the experience of a lifetime. We enjoyed a lot,” she said. “I would like to visit this place again.”

Likewise, the number of sightseers travelling from Beni to Jomsom by motorcycle has risen sharply after the construction of the road.

The September-November period is considered to be the best time for trekking in Nepal due to the excellent weather and tantalizing mountain views.

According to a report entitled Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2016 published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of travel and tourism to Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP) was Rs173.7 billion (8.1 percent of GDP) in 2015, and is forecast to rise 6.5 percent in 2016.

Domestic travel spending generated 57.5 percent of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2015 compared to 42.5 percent for foreign visitor spending or international tourism receipts. Acap statistics show that foreign trekker numbers have also been rising. In August, there were 1,857 foreigners which is more than double the figure for the same period last year.

Likewise, 3,620 foreigners received trekking permits in September, up 89 percent compared to the same period last year.

Published: 28-10-2016 08:48

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