KATHMANDU, Feb 1: Although the growth rate of trekkers slowed in 2012, entrepreneurs are optimistic about business prospects in the upcoming season as they have been receiving encouraging enquiries and bookings on newly developed trekking trails.
Mohan Lamsal, who just returned after participating in Travel and Adventure Show 2013 in US, told Republica that enquiries on newly developed trekking trails were overwhelming.
Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN) unveiled four trekking trails – Nagi-Narchyang (Myagdi-Parbat), Dhorpatan (Myagdi-Baglung), Panchpokhari (Sindhupalchowk) and Lower Solu (Solukhumbu)-in 2011.
Similarly, the association explored new trekking routes in Taplejung and Lower Manslu region in 2012. The year also saw the launch of Guerrila Trek. The trek includes some of the trails used by Maoist guerrillas during decade-long insurgency. It can be started from Beni of Myagdi or Chaurjahari of Piuthan or Holeri of Rolpa.
Lamsal, who is also the general secretary of TAAN, said enquiry about new routes particularly the Guerrilla trek was encouraging. “We are overwhelmed with enquires that we have been getting. Some operators have already handled groups on some of the new trails,” added Lamsal.
Mahendra Singh Thapa, president of TAAN, said bookings for trekking in Manaslu region are very encouraging. “The other fast selling trekking package is Nagi-Narchyang trail in Myagdi,” he said. Thapa expect the trails to attract more visitors once the promotional campaigns are launched.
“We are not being able to launch the new trails effectively as we have been failing to mobilize TIMS Fund for the purpose as the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is yet to get a CEO,” he said, adding that the growing attraction of trekkers toward new trails is a positive sign at a time when the growth rate of European and American tourists is declining.
Though most of the newly developed trails lack necessary infrastructure, entrepreneurs say they were attracting adventure seekers. “Most of the established trekking areas have good lodges, but the presence of road has made the route polluted and shorter,” Lamsal said, adding that tourists seeking camping trek prefer less traveled routes as they were quiet and more adventurous.
According to data maintained by TAAN, a total of 87,247 trekkers took TIMS cards from TAAN Secretariat in 2012.
TIMS card is mandatory for trekkers heading to different trekking trails in Everest, Langtang and Annapurna regions.