Phudoma Sherpa from Khumjung village in Khumbu Pasanglhamu rural municipality 4 in the district is feeling desolate this winter. Although the tourist arrival was normal in previous years, it is bleak this time, she said. ‘Last year, tourist influx was normal, but the number of visitors is worrying this winter,’ she shared.
The Sagarmatha National Park Office at Namche also confirmed that this winter there was a 30 percent fall in tourists’ visits to the Sagarmatha region this year. The Khumbu area was visited by 1,920 tourists last year, while only 1,329 turned up this year, according to the information officer at the Park Office, Manoj Kumar Mandal. Among the total, 455 were domestic tourists, while 1,465 were foreigners last year.
A total of 120 Nepalis and 1,209 foreigners have reached the Khumbu region now. Lately, with the rising cold, the Khumbu region has turned bleak. The Park Office informed us that the dipping mercury is the reason behind it. This region sees a tourist season for six months a year. Among these, the Nepali months of Asoj, Kartik, and Mangsir are peak times. In the peak season, as many as 1,000 tourists visit the Khumbu region a day, while there are hardly five to seven tourists now, information officer Mandal added.
Ward-4 Chairman Laxman Adhikari said the tourism entrepreneurs are free at present. Even the locals have left villages to avoid the cold. When it is off-season, the locals also visit new places. Chief of Area Administration Office, Namche, Sujan Kumari Bardewa, said the places such as Lukla, Namche, and Khumjung are now dismal with limited movement of people. Many people go down the hills to escape the brutal cold.
Public offices also record a negligible number of service seekers, Bardewa added. A teacher at Khumjung Secondary School, Tilak BK, said, ‘As the winter begins, the people here leave for warm places, including Kathmandu, and some even have religious visits up to Bodhgaya, India.’ Most of the Khumbu people stay in Kathmandu during the cold.