LHASA, AUG 19 – A massive mudslide on August 2 that buried part of the Araniko Highway and dammed up the Sunkoshi River, inundating surrounding areas, has affected overland tourists taking the Khasa-Tatopani route, causing Nepal to suffer a loss of around Rs 1.2 million in revenue daily on an average.
The number of tourists, particularly Indian and Chinese, has dipped to 400 from 1,200 daily, said Nepali Consulate General Office in Lhasa.
The route records higher numbers of Indian tourists as the Tatopani entry point is easy access to reach to the religious site of Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet. After Indian tourists, Chinese tourists are the second largest visitors using the point. Due to moderate climate, the May-August season draws more pilgrims for the Mansarovar Yatra.
Forty percent of the total Chinese tourists travelling to Nepal take this route. Over 10,000 tourists travelled overland to Nepal in July alone.
“Some tourists are travelling to Nepal despite our request not to travel via overland,” said Hari Prasad Basyal, Consul General at the office. “They are mostly trekkers, who take high risk.”
The office had collected more than Rs 130 million in revenue from tourists last year, up from Rs 20 million in 2009.
“I have been receiving dozens of calls every day from travellers and Nepali entrepreneurs inquiring on the situation of the blocked road,” said Basyal.
According to him, Nepali entrepreneurs have started using Kerung point as an alternative route to transport goods from China, which is a longer route. “Chinese government has already set up immigration to facilitate travellers at Kerung and has also asked us to set up Nepali office,” said Basyal.
He added the number of tourists can go up significantly if the government sets up an immigration office at Kerung.