Government to open Northern Regions for visit to Tourists

5th Mar, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, March 5: Nepal Govenrnment has started the planning and preparations to remove the travle ban on the restricted areas in Northern sides of Nepal to foreign tourists.

[caption id="attachment_4179" align="alignnone" width="1000"] UPPER DOLPO[/caption]

The government has initiated the plan to remove the restricts to raise tourism revenues, Tourism Minister said.

The government has put restrictions on the villages of Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Solukhumbu, Dolakha, Rasuwa, Gorkha, Mustang, Manang, Dolpa, Mugu and Humla districts that adjoin the Chinese border were declared out of bounds to foreign visitors in the 1970s.

Foreigners are required to get special permits from the Department of Immigration to travel to these areas. Also, permits are not given to individual trekkers. Only trekkers travelling in a group through a government authorized trekking agency can apply for the permit. Permit fees range from $10 per week to $500 for 10 days depending on where you go.

Trekking agencies and tour operators have been lobbying with the government to open up such areas that have an immense potential to contribute to the country’s tourism as well as the local economy.

In the 1970s, the government imposed restrictions on the movement of foreigners in a number of northern villages bordering Tibet as Khampa rebels were found to be using Nepali territory to mount raids into China. In 1974, the Nepal Army succeeded in completely disarming the Khampa rebels, but the travel restrictions remained.

Shahi said that the government was also planning to announce incentive packages for potential investors in rural areas.

Meanwhile, travel trade experts have said that the government’s target to attract 2.5 million tourists annually by the year 2025 is attainable. They said that the plan would also encourage investment in the tourism industry. The strategic plan to raise arrivals to 2.5 million from less then 1 million currently has opened opportunities for potential investors. The success of this scheme will depend very much on a stable and secure government, they added.

The Tourism Ministry has launched National Tourism Strategy 2016-25 which envisages a fivefold increase in arrivals annually by the year 2025.

The scheme, which incorporates a five-year action plan and a 10-year horizon for the country’s tourism sector, has envisaged increasing foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector to Rs340 billion annually from Rs49.78 billion in 2015.

The tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP has been projected to jump to 9.29 percent from 2.44 percent in 2015.