Feb 20, 2017- The flow of foreign tourists to the Manaslu Conservation Area, which had dropped significantly after the 2015 earthquakes, has revived following restoration of the trekking route.
The quakes of April and May, 2015 had damaged and destroyed a number of segments along the trail, leading to a significant drop in number of tourists. Also, landslide that took place right after the quakes obstructed movement of tourists.
The quakes, coupled with landslide, caused foreign tourist arrivals in Manaslu to dip by almost 60 percent to 2,419 in 2015. The drop was recorded a year after the Manaslu Conservation Area witnessed arrival of 5,918 tourists, the highest since the area was opened to tourists in 1995.
Although tourist arrival in Manaslu in 2016 could not beat that of 2014, a drastic recovery was made, with the area receiving 4,872 foreign visitors last year.
“Tourist arrival has revived as we have completed repair and maintenance works at the trail, although we fear landslides may once again cause damage to the trail,” said Rajkumar Gurung, head of Manaslu Conservation Area Project.
Landslides in Manaslu do not occur only during the monsoon. During the dry season, there is additional risk of rockslides that can also cause damage to the trekking route, halting movement of trekkers.
Considering these risks, the trekking trail, according to Gurung, is now being renovated so as to meet the international standard. “We are increasing the width of trails to 2 metres,” Gurung said. “In places like Machikhola and Lapu, trails are being widened with the help of consumer groups, while trails along Sardibas and Chumchet that were destroyed by the earthquakes have been repaired.”
Also, gradients are being reduced at different segments of the trail and a cantilever bridge is being built over Sardi Khola, Gurung said, expressing hope that these efforts would help in attracting more tourists to the region.
In the first half of the current fiscal year ended mid-January alone, a total of 3,518 foreign tourists visited Manaslu, up 54 percent than in the same period a year ago.
The Manaslu Conservation Area only keeps records of international visitors. So, the number of domestic tourists who visited the area is not known. Most of the tourists visit the area in the months of April, May, September, October and November.
The Manaslu Conservation Area is home to Mount Manaslu, the eighth tallest peak in the world, which rises 8,163 metres above the sea level.
Source: Kathmandu Post