POKHARA, JANUARY 13
Construction of roads in a haphazard manner, sometimes infringing on popular trekking routes, is threatening trekking tourism.
Hit by various natural disasters and recently dented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector which is trying to rise, is facing this new problem, according to tourism entrepreneurs.
Trekking routes are being destroyed with the construction of motorable roads.
“Construction of roads encroaching upon trekking routes has not only shortened the distance of trekking routes, it has caused concern as it is disturbing the ‘unique experience’ of trekking in a noisefree natural setting,” Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal’s West Regional Association President Sushil Raj Poudel said.
More than 70 per cent of foreign tourists visiting Nepal come for trekking and mountaineering.
Poudel said the road expansion has added to their concern that trekking tourism could be ruined.
Haphazard construction of roads along trekking routes has, besides increasing the risk of landslides, posed serious threat to trekking tourism.
Trekking tourism entrepreneurs said that although they have drawn the attention of the local units not to construct roads in an unplanned manner by infringing on the traditional trekking routes that are popular among the foreign trekkers, their requests have gone unheeded. This has resulted in the shortening of trekking routes.
TAAN has been calling for declaring the trekking sector as a protected sector with the objective of preserving the trekking routes and promoting trekking tourism.
Hundreds of families living in settlements as Syong, Jagat, Chyamse, Dharapani, Dhikurpokhari and Chame, among other places lying close to the Annapurna Trekking Route, whose living is dependent on trekking tourism in recent years, are on the verge of becoming displaced from their profession due to the shortening of the trekking routes.
The Round-Annapurna trekking route is among the world’s 10 best trekking destinations.
Before it used to take 21 days to trek along this route from Beshisahar to Naya Pul, but now it has been cut short to five to seven days with the construction of roads and vehicles reaching various places along this route.
The route that starts from Beshisahar ends at Naya Pul in Pokhara passing through Muktinath, Jomsom, Tatopani Ghorepani and Birethanti.
The Tatopani-Chitre trekking route which used to take two days on foot can now be traversed in three hours by vehicle these days.
Similarly, the duration of trekking along the Naya Pul-Ghandruk trekking route has been shortened to one hour if one travelled by car up to Kimte.
Similarly, the trekking route towards Annapurna Base Camp, Ghandruk and Landruk via Dhumpus, as well as Naya Pool-Ghorepani trekking route have been limited to one or two hours trek. Earlier it took one or two days to reach the destinations.
Tourism entrepreneurs said that protection of trekking route around Annapurna Base Camp as well as publicity of different trekking routes developed in recent years such as Pokhara Khayerlek, Pokhara Hiddenlek, Terila Pass, Gurung Heritage Trail was necessary.
Feature image: File
A version of this article appears in print on January 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.