Maoists collecting entry fee from trekkers

Pokhara, October 22:

Maoists are collecting entry fees from tourists at the entrance point of Sagarmatha and Annapurna areas. They have set up a temporary checkpost at Jagat in Annarpurna circular path for the purpose.

Each tourist is required to pay Rs 100, said chairperson of the Nepal Trekking, Travels and Rafting Workers’ Union’s western region chapter Shiva Bhakta Thapa.

The Maoists are collecting fees from tourists and also giving receipts for the same. A receipt slip states that the fee is actually “travel permission tax” going into the coffers of the CPN-Maoist for the creation of the Magarat Autonomous Area and Tamuwan Autonomous Area.

Any tourist going for a day’s trek is required to pay Rs 100, said tourist guide Khagendra Neupane who returned from a trek of Ghorepani recently.

The Maoists are collecting donations from tourists at Landruk in Kaski also, said Neupane. Chairperson of the Trekking Agents’ Association of Nepal’s western chapter Sanjeev Thapa said the Maoists are collecting donation at Ghorepani, too.

Maoist leader Karan said tax collection by the Maoists was nothing new. The trekking agency, in the name of issuing Trekking Registration Certificate, is going to collect Rs 250 from each tourist from October 27, said Sanjeev Thapa.

Some 1248 tourists took letters of permission in September and some 150 tourists are entering the Annapurna Area from October 1, said Tek Gurung, a tourism accountant at the booking counter of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project at Baidam.

Meanwhile, the Maoists have established a temporary camp on the Dudh Koshi River bridge at Phakdim in Solukhumbu and are collecting entry fees from tourists, said tourism entrepreneurs. Here also, the Maoists are collecting Rs 100 per day from each tourist, said a tourism entrepreneur.

Some 30,000 tourists come to visit Sagarmatha Area in the season, according to tourism entrepreneurs.