China slaps restrictions on Kailash tour guides

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Hindus believe that bathing in Lake Manasarovar and drinking its water will cleanse them from all sinHindus believe that bathing in Lake Manasarovar and drinking its water will cleanse them from all sin

Jul 12, 2018-Chinese authorities have imposed restrictions on the number of Nepali guides and kitchen staff who can accompany pilgrims going on the Kailash Manasarovar tour in Tibet. The new regulations came into force in June, tour operators said.

Previously, one Nepali guide was allowed to handle five pilgrims during the 11-day holy tour in southwest China across the border from Nepal. Hindus believe that bathing in Lake Manasarovar and drinking its water will cleanse them from all sin.

Under the new regulations, one guide will have to serve eight pilgrims, tour operators said, adding that the new provision had affected jobs for many Nepali guides, popularly known as Sherpas regardless of their heritage.

“It’s difficult for one guide to handle eight pilgrims,” said a tour operator. Chinese authorities have also hiked the permit fee for Nepali guides from $120 to $320. “Likewise, local authorities are charging an additional $5,000 per Nepali group as transportation fee,” they said. “This is an unnecessary charge imposed to restrict the number of Nepali guides.”

On June 3, China abruptly raised travelling charges for devotees going on the Kailash Manasarovar tour to the distress of Nepali and Indian tour operators.

As per the new tariff, pilgrims travelling to Kailash Manasarovar over the Nepalgunj-Simikot-Hilsa route will have to pay an extra $180 per head, and pilgrims taking the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung route will have to pay an additional $140 per head.

“Chinese authorities have created a huge financial burden for tour operators, and this indicates that they want to control the business that Nepali operators are doing on the route,” said a Nepali tour operator.

Until last year, devotees had to pay $1,085 per person for a three-night package using the Nepalgunj-Simikot-Hilsa route. Now the fee has gone up to $1,265 per person.

Similarly, a five-night package using the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung route which used to cost $895 per person will now cost $1,035 per person.

This is a mandatory fee that needs to be paid to the China-India Pilgrims Service Centre. The fee covers food, hotel, vehicle service and guide as the centre does not allow Nepali or Indian tour operators to provide these services.

Tour operators expect to receive 20,000 to 25,000 Indian pilgrims this year.

Last year, nearly 15,000 Indians visited the holy site. The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra normally begins in May and lasts till September. There are five routes to Mt Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. Two of them, Uttarakhand and Nathula, Sikkim, are in India. They are the longest and most expensive routes. It takes nearly three weeks to reach the holy place using these routes.

Nepal offers three routes to the holy sites through the Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi border points.

However, the Chinese government closed down the Tatopani border point following earthquake damage in 2015. Pilgrims have also started going through Rasuwagadhi after the road was opened this year.

Published: 12-07-2018 08:54

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