Tourists returning to Langtang in hordes

August 08, 2018

Balram Ghimire, The Kathmandu Post, 8 Aug 2018

Tourist arrivals to the popular trekking destination of Langtang in Rasuwa have been rising steadily after plunging sharply following the 2015 earthquake

Around 13,700 sightseers visited the Langtang Valley in the last fiscal year 2017-18 ended mid-July, according to the statistics of Langtang National Park.

In the previous year, Langtang hosted 11,068 visitors. Langtang National Park is located north of Kathmandu and adjoins the Chinese border.

Trekkers began avoiding Langtang after a massive avalanche set off by the earthquake on April 25, 2015 swept away an entire village. More than 650 people were killed in the disaster.

According to park records, tourist arrivals dropped to 4,292 in fiscal 2015-16, which is less than a third of usual annual arrivals. Before the earthquake, more than 15,000 tourists used to visit Langtang every year.

“Trekker numbers have been increasing and have reached pre-earthquake levels,” said Yubaraj Regmi, chief conservation officer of the park. Langtang tourism has rebounded to its former state after the completion of reconstruction works. All its three key trekking routes and the hotels damaged by the earthquake have been rebuilt.

Trekking trails in Langtang are relatively easy, so it has become the first choice for many visitors, local tourism entrepreneurs said. Langtang is gaining popularity among domestic visitors as well due to its proximity to Kathmandu. It also offers short trekking options.

“In a few short days, visitors can explore many things in the valley,” said Temba Lama, a local tourism entrepreneur. The valley’s trekking trails are unique selling propositions, and with three trails open to tourists, visitor inflows are expected to rise in the future.

Panoramic views of Langtang Himal and Gosainkunda Lake and the diverse flora and fauna of Langtang National Park are the major attractions of the valley. Tourists can now trek over three foot trails: Dhunche-Gosainkunda-Helambu, Syabrubesi-Langtang and Tamang Sampada Marg in the Langtang area.

Many hotels have opened in Langtang, Sindhum and Kyanjin. “Nearly 90 percent of the tourists come to visit Langtang and Kyanjin,” said Ajit Parajuli, information officer of the park. “The park and Gosainkunda Rural Municipality have been conducting various tourism promotion programmes in order to attract visitors.”

About every one or two hours of walking on the trail, there are shops, hotels and restaurants which allow comfortable trekking in the mountainous region. Following the devastating 2015 earthquake, Nepal has been featured regularly in different foreign publications and media among the top destinations to visit in 2017. This has greatly helped the country to attract foreigners.

Arrivals to Nepal hit a new record in 2017 but remained short of the much ballyhooed target of 1 million individuals, the Department of Immigration said. The country received 940,218 tourists last year, up 24.86 percent from 2016.