Though the tourist arrival across the country decreased in 2013 due to political instability, especially general or transport strikes, the number of tourists visiting Upper Mustang actually increased compared to the previous year.
With this the collection of revenue also increased, up to Rs 200 million, according to Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).
The cost of traveling in the ´controlled area´ as announced by the government is very high. Foreigners who wish to visit the area have to take permission from the Department of Immigration (DoI) by paying US$ 500. By paying US$ 500 they can stay in the area for 10 days and if they want to extend they have to pay additional US$ 50 per day. However, the cost does not seem to have affected the tourist visiting Upper Mustang.
According to Santosh Sherchan, chief of ACAP, a total of 3,344 foreign tourists visited Lo Manthang in 2013. ´Despite all odds, we had scores of more tourists and we were able to earn revenue worth Rs 200 million,” said Sherchan, adding that there were many tourists who extended their stay by paying additional charges.
The number of tourist from France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China increased after Upper Mustang was listed as one of the worlds´ best destination.
´Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book´ had listed Upper Mustang in the third position of the world´s top ten best destinations.
“Though the number of tourist increased, our expectation was much more as the area was listed in the third best destination in the world. However, strikes, political disturbances, Constituent Assembly (CA) election and fear of insecurity hindered the arrival of tourists,” said Khagendra Tulachan, president of Mustang Hotel Association of Nepal.
The scenic Himalayan range, traditional monasteries, caves and palaces built back in the middle ages, old houses, art and culture among others factors attract the tourist. Besides, they also visit the area for carrying out the research of traditional art and culture.
The ´controlled area´ was opened for foreign tourist only in 1992 and till date, the government has earned around Rs 2 billion from them, according to the District Development Committee. However, the locals complain that the government has hardly spent money for the development of the region.
´The government has earned millions of rupees and if some of the amount could be spent for the development of the region more tourists can be attracted,” said Tashi Bista, a youth advisor of Upper Mustang Youth Society.
Source & References
Pokharel, S. 2014. Unlike rest of Nepal, upper Mustang received more tourists in 2013. [online] 04 January. Available at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=67410 [Accessed: 5 Jan 2014].