Ramji Rana, Annapurna Post, January 21, 2019
LAMJUNG: One of the most sought after tourist destinations, the Annapurna Circuit saw an incredible rise in the number of tourists, setting a record for highest number of arrivals in the area, in the year 2018.
According to Annapurna Conservation Area-based Dharapani Checkpost of Manang, the trek route was visited by 28, 534 tourists in 2018 as against 27,068 tourists in 2017.
The trails are usually less busy in winter. However, at least 50 tourists per day had arrived here even in December, informed Somi Gurung, Tourism Assistant at the Dharapani Check-post. It has been estimated that at least 1000 tourists have visited the area around what is generally known as an ‘off-season’.
In 2018, the highest number of visits were recorded in October at 7,163 compared to the previous year’s number of 6,674 around the same time. Similarly, 4,380 trekkers visited the area in November compared to previous year’s figure of 4,338. As many as 2,856 tourist arrivals were recorded in September compared to previous year’s number of 2,620, Gurung added.
During the popular trekking seasons—September-November and March-May— the trails were occupied by 360 tourists per day. In September-November bracket, October saw the highest number of trekkers while in March-May, April saw the highest number in 2018.
Compared to 2016, 2017 witnessed an increment in the number of tourists by 22.47%. As per the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Manang’s computation, there were 22,102 tourists visiting the area in 2016. In 2015, the year when the country was devastated by powerful earthquakes and economic blockade, the visits were limited to 13,615 tourists— a decline by 34% compared to the previous year.
Likewise, during the armed conflict era, the number had declined by 29% from the recorded amount of visits during the previous years. Nevertheless, the number has been increasing over the last three years. Compared to 2015, an increment of about 38.42% was seen in 2016.
ACAP has been keeping the record of tourists heading toward Manang through Annapurna Circuit. After being granted permission from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Besisahar based offices, tourists are required to submit their details at Dharapani Checkpost, in Nasong Rural Municipality, Manang.
Similar check-post has started to operate at Simpani, Marshyangdi Rural Municipality, Lamjung.
Annapurna Circuit was voted one of the best long distance treks in the world until half a decade ago. Thorang La Pass, situated at an altitude of 5,416 meters above the sea level and the world ’s highest lake, Tilicho (4,919 meters above the sea level), are among the popular attractions of the Annapurna Circuit.
In a period of 20 years, tourist arrival has reached a historical record, according to Head at ACAP Manang Babulal Tiruwa.
Despite the fall during the year of the earthquake and economic blockade, there has been a steady increase in the number of tourists landing in the area after that not-so-happening year.