Kathmandu: Poor conditions of trekking route and exorbitant entrance fees have emerged as key challenges to the tourism development of Upper Mustang. The number of foreign tourists coming to the trans-Himalayan Upper Mustang has not increased despite full-wing preparation for Visit Nepal Year-2020, RSS reported.
Keeping this in mind, locals have demanded the operation of the alternative trekking routes, wider publicity, and reduction of the entrance fee. There is a provision that foreigners should take approval from the Department of Immigration for the visit to Upper Mustang – located at Lomanthang and Damodarkunda Lodheyakar rural municipalities along the bordering area of China.
Besides, they should form a group of at least two visitors and pay an entrance fee of US$ 500 for a 10-day long stay. Also, the foreigners should clarify the reason for prolonging the stay beyond 10 days and pay an additional US$ 50 per day for extended stay.
Ram Bahadur Gurung, a local hotel entrepreneur, complained that tourism enterprise has been grappling with crisis due to high entrance fees and procedural hassles. Around 50 resorts and hotels now are in operation in two rural municipalities having the capacity to accommodate daily 500 guests. The resorts and hotels were constructed at the cost ranging from NRs 3 million to 200 million.
There is an increasing trend of establishing new hotels here. Though the inflow of domestic tourists is on the rise during vacation and festive season, it is not regular. According to the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), the score of foreign tourists reaching the upper Mustang in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was 3,918, 4,015 and 3,946. The year 2019 has also witnessed a similar trend.
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