The Annapurna Circuit, a trek within the mountain ranges of Nepal, has received decreasing number of tourists lately, thanks to various factors like the onset of monsoon, road problems and off season for tourists. The popular trek at home and foreign countries that links five districts has witnessed barely 8 to 10 tourists on a daily basis as against around 200 until a week ago, said Chhetra Bahadur Gurung, tourism assistant at the tourism check centre, Dharapani, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project.
The trek would draw as many as over 600 tourists daily in the past. As a result, tourism entrepreneurs who were hit hard by COVID-19 for a long period have faced another blow. The trek wore a deserted look for a long period of time (at least two years) due to global COVID-19, thus marring tourism. “I would earn around Rs 60,000 on a daily basis when there was a pressure of tourists. But, nowadays, incomes were almost like zero,” complained a tourist entrepreneur, Pancha Bahadur Gurung of Lamjung Marsyangdi Rural Municipality-4.
Another tourism entrepreneur Khus Bahadur Tamang had made Rs 40 thousand to Rs 50 thousand daily until few weeks back. He says the number of tourists has drastically gone down these days and he only makes Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 a day. Dwindling tourism business is not only their problem but that of more than around 3,500 tourism entrepreneurs who are making a living from tourism business. The tourism sector which was hard-hit by COVID-19 pandemic and had just started to revive has started declining once again.
It looks like the trekking route is going to see only a few visitors for some more months with the start of the monsoon. The Centre’s records show that the highest number of tourists coming for trekking in this trail is from France, Germany, Italy and other countries. The number of tourists will start increasing after mid-August once the monsoon exits from Nepal.
About 4,900 tourists have come for trekking till date since January of this year, said Gurung, the Tourism Assistant at the ACAP, Tourism Checkpoint Dharapani. Tourists visit the Annapurna trekking route mainly for trekking purpose and also for sight-seeing, observing the local culture and tradition and to trek up to Mustang via the Thumra Pass of Manang and some travel on to Pokhara as well. The entry point of the Annapurna trekking route is at Manange Chautara of Besisahar municipality-7, Lamjung district. The route adjoins five districts- Lamjung, Kaski, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi. The visitors travel to Besisahar from Kathmandu by car or bus.