Tourism entrepreneurs upbeat over successful mountaineering expedition, including the Everest scale this spring

Kathmandu: Domestic tourism entrepreneurs are upbeat with the successful scaling of the highest peaks, including, the Mount Everest this fall as they believe the increasing number of mountaineers in the country is bound to impact positively in promotion of tourism, one of the major revenue generating sectors. The climbing of various mountains including the Everest or Sagartmatha, which was scrubbed since twin avalanches in 2014 and 2015, was announced open on May 11 this year.

Of the total climbers of 34 teams obtaining permit for the Everest expedition for this fall, 303 climbers have already made it to the highest peak of the world so far, according to Gyandendra Kumar Shrestha, Chief of the Mountaineering Section of the Department of Tourism (DoT). Rest of the climbers from 63 teams are eyeing for other mountains as Mount Annapurna, Mount Manaslu, Mount Makalu and Mount Kanchanjunga among others, shared Shrestha. It may be noted that the mountaineering is the highest revenue generator in the country in tourism sector. DoT figure shows that the mountaineering generated over Rs 290 million in 2015 while revenue of similar figure has already been collected in five months of the current fiscal year.

Since the first ascend of the Mount Everest in May 29, 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, so far a total of 7,700 have successfully reached atop the mountain measuring 8,848 metres, a data at DoT reveals. Nepal undoubtedly has been the ultimate attraction for the mountaineers for it is home to eight of the ten highest peaks in the world. Tourism entrepreneurs believe that the latest bustle of mountaineers’ activities in various mountain expeditions in the country would help thrive tourism sector which is identified as a backbone of the country’s national economy.

One among them is Temba Sherpa who holds the view that the increasing number of mountaineers in the aftermath of the Gorkha Earthquake would help promote tourism sector. However, Sherpa admits that the concerned authorities have not been able to streamline the mountaineering tourism and ensure its safety. “To ensure safety, it is imperative that the government invests in the production of skilled human resources,” he argued. Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) President Chandra Rijal gushed for the increasing attraction of the tourists in the trekking besides mountaineering which, he claimed, had disseminated a positive message on the country’s tourism sector across the world.

The government has recently declared 2018 as the Tourism Year, aiming to bring in as much as a million of tourists in the same year. Furthermore, the recently launched government policies and programmes for 2016/017 has decided to observe 2073 BS as a ‘ GhumPhir Barsa’ (Travel and Tours Year) to encourage domestic tourism. These government initiatives are likely to have a positive impact on the tourism sector. Sudarshan Prasad Dhakal, Director General at the DoT expressed his confidence that successful expeditions to various mountains after a hiatus of two years have helped mountaineering tourism activities gain pace yet again. “The mountains in Nepal are safe for climbing. The success stories of mountaineering this summer have played a positive role in sending a message to the world that the country is open for travel and tourism,” DG Dhakal stated. He shared that the DoT has been providing positive news and information on various tourism activities, including mountaineering to various foreign media. Nepal Mountaineering Association President Ang Tshering Sherpa holds similar belief as Dhakal that the plethora of mountaineering activities seen in the Mount Everest and other highest peaks have drawn the world’s attention towards the Himalayan nation.

The DoT sees the number of mountaineers increased this year with the government providing free expedition permit to those mountaineers who obtained the permit but called off their expedition owing to the various reasons, including the avalanches and Gorkha Earthquake. May and June are the times when the weather condition is often at its best for an expedition. The influx of foreigner tourists in 2015 stood at 545,747, according to the Department of Immigration, which is a 29.7 per cent decline against 2014. The tourism entrepreneurs, however, are hopeful that the mountains here will continue attract larger number mountaineers next fall.

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