Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Restrictions for Around Manaslu to be lifted

With the restrictions for the around Manaslu trek to the lifted we can look forward to a South Col trek in the Manaslu region!

KATHMANDU, April 29: The government is doing the necessary groundwork to lift restrictions for foreigners in Upper Manaslu area in Gorkha district.

Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had instructed officials to lift the restriction about a fortnight ago, following repeated requests by locals and tourism entrepreneurs.

Following the PM´s instructions, the Ministry of Home Affairs last week sought opinions from stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) and Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, on opening Upper Manaslu area for foreign trekkers.

After the restriction is lifted, foreigners can travel in the area by acquiring Trekkers´ Information Management System Card (TIMS) distributed by Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN) or Nepal Tourism Board. Foreigners traveling in groups can get the card for $10 per person, while those traveling independently will need to pay $20 per person for the card.

As of now, trekkers need to take a special permit by paying $90 per person per week after completing lengthy administrative formalities. They, however, must travel in groups. Due to restrictions, only 600-700 foreign trekkers visit the area annually.

“It´s the lengthy administrative formalities, and not the permit fee, that was creating problem for trekkers,” TAAN President Mahendra Singh Thapa said.

Responding to the home ministry, MoTCA had suggested that restrictions could be lifted by deputing Armed Police Force (APF) personnel at checkpoints.

According to officials, the government had imposed restrictions on the area in line with Nepal´s One China policy as the area borders Tibet. “The restriction can be lifted. But the trekking activities should be limited within a certain distance from Nepal-China border,” an official at MoTCA said. The cabinet will lift the restrictions based on the suggestions of the stakeholders, the official said.

Upper Manaslu region is popular among trekkers for its unique environment and rich bio diversity, featuring Himalayan ranges, glacial lakes, monasteries and fascinating flora and fauna.

According to entrepreneurs, the area can receive 25,000-30,000 trekkers annually once the restriction is lifted.

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