The locals’ decision to increase the prices for their services by 10 per cent will not in any way affect the arrival of foreign tourists who will be ready to pay the increased prices
The local tourism entrepreneurs in the Annapurna Base Camp route and tourism stakeholders in the Western Regional Association in Pokhara and the Union of Trekking, Travel, Rafting Airlines workers are at odds after the local hotel and restaurant entrepreneurs decided to increase the cost of bed and food along the route famous for trekking.
The local Tourism Management Sub-Committee at Chhomrong decided to increase the cost of accommodation and food citing market price hikes in all commodities including the food items ferried from Pokhara and elsewhere.
Other hotels, lodges and restaurants at New Bridge, Jhinu, Kimrong Khola, Ghurjung, Chhomlong and Bhanuwa and ABC, a place located at an altitude of 4,130 metres above sea level, collectively decided to increase the cost of their services by 10 percent.
It means that a meal at New Bridge will now cost Rs. 200 as per the revised price list, whereas it used to cost Rs 180 earlier. The workers union and Western Regional Association Pokhara have also opposed the locals’ decision to introduce the advance booking system, which they say is impractical.
Local tourism entrepreneurs claim that they had to increase the price for their services as it had remained unchanged for the last four years.
Tourism activities in the Annapurna Base Camp or its trekking route famous all over the world for a month-long trekking, village tourism and sightseeing had suffered a setback for want of foreign tourists following the devastating earthquakes in April and May 2015. There had been a sharp decline in the flow of tourists in the area for safety reasons.
Statistics reveal that as many as 20,000 tourists had visited the ABC area before the quake. But the number fell to less than half in 2015. Around 100,000 tourists, mainly foreigners other than Indians, had visited the Annapurna Base Camp area every year.
But the number went down to around 30,000 after the earthquakes, affecting the tourism business in the area.
Both the Pokhara-based tourism entrepreneurs and the locals seem to be right. But what should be taken into account is that the locals’ decision to raise prices for their services should not be taken in a bad light as prices of all commodities have automatically increased over the years, particularly after the devastating earthquakes and six-month long blockade against Nepal.
No prices for their services had been revised since 2012. The local tourism entrepreneurs should have also consulted the Pokhara-based tourism operators before such a unilateral decision was taken.
However, the new provision of advance booking system that has been introduced may not be feasible as there is no guarantee that the trekkers and tourist guides may be able to reach the destination as planned on specific time and may not prefer to eat what they had previously ordered.
But the locals’ decision to increase the prices for their services will not in any way affect the arrival of foreign tourists who will be ready to pay the increased prices which is very nominal compared to the price hike in the local markets. It is advised that both the sides should reach a compromise.
A version of this article appears in print on August 10, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.