Climate change taking toll on Nepal’s tourism prospects

With no snow on them, high hills and Himalayan mountains in Pokhara wear a deserted look, tourist arrival has gone down and farmers feel the heat.

Himalchuli mountain, centre, and Manasulu mountain range, right, seen from Bhaktapur, Nepal [File: Niranjan Shrestha/AP]

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Normally this time of the year, high hills and mountains in Kaski district would attract tourists with snow blanketing the areas. This time the situation is different. These hills and mountains are devoid of snow. Potential visitors are waiting for snowfall to enjoy but there has been none. 

The dearth of snowfall has alarmed environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs alike. 

Tourism entrepreneurs are worried about a lack of the flow of tourists to the area. Locals say that Krapudanda in Madi Rural Municipality-2 received around 25 tourists on a daily basis during the same period last year. But, only around four showed up this time. Krapudanda is famous for visitors to relish the snow. 

There are four hotels in the area, said a tourism entrepreneur Himal Gurung. “The number of tourists visiting the area this year is very low as compared to the last year,” he said. Krapudanda would receive a dense movement of tourists during this season, he said, adding, “There would be a pressure of tourists in the area just post Dashain and Tihar festivals. But, this time, only three or four have made their way on a daily basis here.”

Sikles, another tourist village, is also witnessing a dwindling number of tourists. The influx of tourists has seen a sharp fall, as there has been no snowfall, said Bel Gurung, a local. The situation of other touristy villages including Hugugoth, Kapuche and Kori is no different–thanks to lack of snowfall.

It is not just tourism that has suffered a setback due to a lack of rain and snowfall. Farmers are worried about their crops. “There was a light rainfall on Wednesday. But, snowfall is elusive. As a result, farmers are finding it hard to do cultivation. Tourism entrepreneurship is also at risk,” said Bel Gurung. Crops like potato, wheat, barley, mustard, bean, tomato and vegetables have been affected without rain and snow, he explained.

Tourism entrepreneurs of this area are worried about the decrease in the arrival of tourists at the Mardi trekking route of the district.

Amrit Tamang, the proprietor of Low Camp Guest House and Restaurant, said: “Although this time is off-season for tourists. We were able to make good income last year from the tourists visiting the area to enjoy snow.”

He further said none of the tourists visited the area as snowfall did not take place this year, making it difficult for the tourism entrepreneurs to sustain their business. 

Around 200 tourists visited the Mardi mountain trekking route to enjoy the snow-filled landscape but only 40-50 tourists visited the route this season.  

Similarly, the number of tourists visiting Ghandruk village has also decreased as the village also did not experience snowfall this year. Chairperson of Ghandruk Tourism Entrepreneurs Committee, Bikram Gurung, shared that the number of tourists has decreased as it is off-season for tourism. 

“Ghandruk witnesses snowfall if it’s chilling cold. But, this time, snowfall did not take place. So tourist arrival has decreased”, he opined. 

Heavy snowfall usually takes place at Kaski’s Kori, Kapuche, Hugugoth, Sikles, Karpudanda, Tangting, Ghandruk as well as villages and hills along the base camp of mountains. 

Climate change is the main reason behind the lack of timely rainfall and snowfall, said Chairperson of Forest Technician Society, Kaski, Kedar Poudel. “Temperature is rising across the globe, and Nepal is not an exception,” he mentioned.