Mustang, the trans-Himalayan kingdom in the north of the Annapurna Range, is home to thousands of ancient caves where, according to various researches, ancient troglodytes had lived around 3,000 years back. Numerous caves with ancient paintings have been discovered in this region, and Tashi Kabum is one of them.
BAGLUNG, Aug 3: The number of foreign tourists visiting Upper Mustang area in Mustang district increased to 3,729 in fiscal year 2013/14.
In the previous year, 3,266 foreign tourists had visited the controlled trekking area.
Breathtaking views, natural attraction and unique culture of local people are the major attractions of Upper Mustang. Trekkers have to pay a permit fee of US$ 500 to get the permit. The permit, which is issued by the Department of Immigration (DoI), is valid for 10 days. They need to pay additional $10 for each extra day.
With the rise in the number of trekkers, revenue collection via permit fee also increased in the review year. The government mobilized total revenue of Rs 185 million in permit fee from Upper Mustang. In the previous fiscal year, the government had collected Rs 156.7 million from permit fee.
Officials say the number of trekkers in Upper Mustang increased this year as Lonely Planet — the largest selling travel guidebook — had included Upper Mustang in the list of ‘Top 10 Best Regions to Travel in 2013’
Though the tourist arrival across the country decreased in 2013 due to political instability, especially general or transport strikes, the number of tourists visiting Upper Mustang actually increased compared to the previous year.
With this the collection of revenue also increased, up to Rs 200 million, according to Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).
The cost of traveling in the ´controlled area´ as announced by the government is very high. Foreigners who wish to visit the area have to take permission from the Department of Immigration (DoI) by paying US$ 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].
JOMSOM: Five people here in Ghasa VDC have ventured into commercial rainbow trout farming by utilizing perennial freshwater of the Kaligandaki river basin.
Nabin Bhattachan, a local hotelier, in partnership with four other investors, has leased six ropanis of land to construct raceway for fishes. The group has already invested Rs 2.9 million for the construction of infrastructure.
Bhattachan said they would invest an additional Rs 5 million for purchasing fingerlings and financing operational cost for 14 months, the time required for the fingerlings to mature.
Talking to Republica, Bhatachan said his group came up with the idea after High Mountain Agribusiness & Livelihood Improvement Project (HIMALI) Project called for new agri-business idea about a year ago. Bhattachan leads the group of four– Bishal Sherchan, Rajan Gauchan, Punit Gauchan and Bikram Gauchan — but all of them have equal investment in the project.
HIMALI has decided to provide a grant of about Rs 5.03 million for the project. The project funded by Asian Development Bank supports agribusiness in the high hills and mountains to improve the livelihood of the locals.
“We will bring some 74,750 fingerlings of rainbow trout from Shardi Khola of Kaski and release them in the raceway by the second week of January next year,” Bhattachan said.
“After 14 months we expect to sell about 7,480 kg of trout at Rs 1,000 per kg,” added Bhattachan.
Bhattachan said that the hotels in the area are frequented by foreign as well as domestic tourists. Fish is a good source of protein and is easy to eat as it lacks intra muscular bones. “Moreover, trout traders in Kaski have assured that they would purchase our fish,” added Bhattachan.
President of Mustang Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khagendra Tulachan, also a hotel entrepreneur, said there are 140 hotels in Jomsom, Ghasa, Lete, Muktinath and Kagbeni. “The trout produced in the farm would be supplied to these hotels. We bring trout from Pokhara but we are not able to fulfill the demand,” added Tulachan.
Kenneth E. Neils, fish culture expert of HIMALI project, said that similar rainbow trout farming is already in operation in Solukhumbu. “The rainbow trout farm will fulfill the demand for trout in the area,” Claimed Neils. The village lies at an altitude of 2070 meters.
Amar Bahadur Shah, chief of HIMALI, said the project provided financial support to Bhattachan to introduce the concept of agri-business in the area. Bhattachan also said half a dozen local youths will be employed in their farm. Two of them are to head to Kathmandu for two-month training. Over 100,000 tourists visit Jomsom and Kagbeni, Kagbeni and upper Mustang annually.
Rainbow trout was first introduced in Nepal some five decades ago from United Kingdom, Japan and India.
source: republica, 05 DEC 2013
Local people at Lo Manthang, an ancient mountain kingdom located in Upper Mustang, are concerned over the existence of their homeland once the area is enlisted as a World Culture Heritage site.
In 2008, the government had included Lo Manthang, the famous earthern-walled capital located at an altitude of around 3,900 meters above sea level, in the tentative list for World Culture Heritage designation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. The famous Tibetan Budhhist kingdom is the single nomination from the country for the designation for its uniqueness and vibrant cultural heritage dating from the 15th century.
Indra Dhara Bista, a local and a member of Culture Heritage Conservation Sub-Committee, strongly objected to the proposal saying it would affect the livelihood of local communities who are dependent on Lo Manthang and surrounding cultural landscape.
Local people believe that once the site is declared a world heritage site, the authorities concerned would curtail their access to the place and restrict other permitted development works necessary for improving their livelihood. A large number of local people depend on trade and agriculture for their livelihood, and run shops connected with the earthen-wall surrounding of Lo Manthang.
Bista was among the participants attending a two-day international symposium on ‘Safeguarding Lo Manthang and Cultural Lanscape of Upper Mustang’ in the Capital that concluded on Saturday.
In the programme, Tashi Bista, a youth advisor representing the Upper Mustang Youth Society, said it is worrisome to hear news about antiques of Upper Mustang being sold online and use of sub-standard materials in the renovation of the site for listing it on World Heritage Sites list by the international community and government authorities. “We fear that once the site makes it to the list, locals’ development needs, including better education and health, will be dominated by the conservation efforts of artifacts in the area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the locals have submitted a letter mentioning their concerns to the Jigme Shinge Palbar Bista, former king of Lo Manthang for consideration.
Since 2008, various organisations and experts have been involved in restoration temples, research and excavation of prehistoric caves in the area. Roland Lin Chih-Hung, a representative from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in France, said it is not possible to work in isolation, without consulting the communities for the sustainable development of the particular site. “Regarding the decision about listing as a world heritage site, it is still a long way to go and local people’s concerns would be taken into consideration during the process,” he added.
According to Neel Kamal Chapagain, assistant professor at the Centre for Heritage Management of Ahmedabad University in India, sustainable development of the site is possible only through a mutual dialogue between the locals and the conservationists,” he said.
source: ekantipur, 04 NOV, 2013
Claiming that they have been deprived of their fare share, the locals of Mustang district have demanded that they be provided with 60 per cent of tourism royalty, which the government collects from tourists visiting Upper Mustang.
The Mustang folk have warned of barring tourists from visiting Upper Mustang if their demand is not met by the government. They say infrastructure development in Mustang, which is located just across the Himalayan range, has slowed down due to lack of budget. They have asked the government to honor an understanding, as per which Mustang is supposed to get 60 per cent of tourism royalty which the Department of Immigration (DoI) collects from tourists visiting Upper Mustang.
Mustang´s Local Development Officer (LDO) Dilli Ram Sigdel says he has already written to the Ministry of Local Development (MoLD) to provide 60 per cent of tourism royalty in tune with the government´s own assurance and demands of local people and political parties. In October last year, the government had promised that it would come up with guidelines to allocate 60 per cent of tourism royalty for infrastructure development in Mustang.
However, instead of getting 60 per cent of tourism royalty, Mustang is now receiving barely half of what it is entitled to. According Sigdel, there is a provsion as per which Mustang should be given 30 per cent of royalty. “But, we are not getting 30 per cent royalty, either,” said Sigdel.
According to Sigdel, DoI collected over Rs 150 million from tourists visiting Upper Mustang in the last fiscal year 2069-70 B.S. “We are supposed to receive around Rs 40 million,” said Sigdel. “But, we got just Rs 20 million.” He said the District Development Office, Mustang feels financially crippled as DoI has not sent even 30 per cent of royalty.
Khagendra Tulachan, Mustang district chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said the government should not backtrack from its commitment. “We deserve 60 per cent of royalty,” said he. “The government should give us what we deserve.”
With its breath-taking beauty and rich culture and history, Mustang continues to fascinate tourists. As it not only shares geographical but also cultural and historical proximity with Tibet, hundreds of foreigners visit Upper Mustang every year. Billed as one of the top 10 best destinations by Lonely Planet in 2013, Mustang was opened to tourists only in 1992. Hundreds of tourists have been visiting what was once considered the Forbidden Kingdom. However, Mustang folks say they are deprived of basic amenities due to the government´s apathy.
source: republica, 31 July 2013