By Rup Narayan Dhakal : Pokhara–Nepal government has hiked entry fees for visitors in three major conservation areas of Nepal.
Issuing a notice in Nepal Gazette on October 15, the government revised entry fees for Annapurna Conservation Area, Manaslu Conservation Area and Gaurishankar Conservation Area. As per the new provision, foreigners should pay Rs 3,000, SAARC nationals Rs 1,000 and Nepali nationals Rs 100 to enter above mentioned conservation areas.
Previously, such fees were Rs 2,260, Rs 200 and Rs zero respectively to enter those areas. Nepali nationals have been covered under the fee system for the first time. Childern below 10 years are not liable for the entry fee. According to the government, the entry fees’ revision made as per the provision of Forest Regulation 2051 BS and Conservation Management Regulation 2053 BS.
At a time when Nepal is preparing for Visit Nepal Year 2020 with an expectation of two million tourists, the fees’ hike has drawn flak among the tourism entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Annapurna Rural Municipality Kaski Chief Yubaraj Kunwar said that the government unilaterally could not increase the entry fees. He further added that the fees could not be hiked and applicable without prior discussion with local level governments and stakeholders.
He urged the government to withdraw its promulgation, warning that the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC)-Annapurna Conservation Area Project Office would be locked with padlock and joint protest programs of local levels against ACAP would be carried out if the revision was not rolled back. In this connection, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal Western Regional Association Pokhara Chairman Hari Bhujel said the government with unexpected fee revision decision was creating irritation among the visitors instead of coming up with tourist friendly environment.
According to Bhujel, the government is only focusing its attentions only in tax collection in numbers of names but seems reluctant in developing infrastructures and sustainable tourism in respective areas. ‘The decision only irritates visitors who wish to enter Annapurna Area,’ he added. Hotelier and tourism entrepreneur from Sikles Dhan Gurung ‘Maila’ accused the ACAP of harassing his 12 Nepali guests in Kahunkhola Check Post of ACAP by asking for Rs 200 each and stopping them for 3 hours following the decision of entry fee revision.