Pokhara, September 27
Trekking workers have announced they will prevent visitors from entering the Annapurna Trekking Circuit from October 8 to protest the new system implemented from mid-September as per which they are required to pay for food in advance.
Calling the new system unfair, Union of Trekking-Travels-Rafting-Airlines Workers’ Nepal, Western Regional Committee, Gandaki Province and All Nepal Tourism Workers’ Association Kaski organised a press conference in Pokhara today to declare the agitation.
The union protested the new rule implemented by hoteliers and lodge operators at select places, including in Tadapani and Deurali, Gorkha’s Manaslu region, and in Manang, according to which, visitors and their attendants have to pay money for meals beforehand and receive coupons.
UNITRAV Chair Bijaya KC called on hoteliers on the ATC to revoke the new system and revert to the previous system. “Hoteliers must implement past agreements,” he said, accusing them of forcing them to take up agitation.
As per the declared agitation, the union will boycott expeditions on Monday and inform the bodies concerned about their protest and urge trekking agencies to support their struggle. The agitation also envisages padlocking the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal Western Regional Association, Pokhara office from Wednesday, recalling trekking workers, padlocking the Annapurna Conservation Area Project counter and barring foreign visitors from trekking.
“Its high-handedness on the part of hoteliers to make us purchase meal coupons beforehand at the entry point itself and show the coupon to have meal. It’s illegal amounts to a syndicate system imposed by shrewd businessmen,” KC argued, adding the decision to agitate was taken due to the apathy of the authorities concerned with regard to addressing their concerns. “We conveyed our concerns to the authorities, but nothing came of it.”
Notably more than 300 tourist guides from Pokhara are involved in taking tourists on the trekking route. There are over 1,200 registered tour guides with UNITRAV. Around 120,000 tourists trek to the region every year.
A version of this article appears in print on September 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.