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Three local units in Mustang call for removal of their areas from list of prohibited zone

2023 Nov 22, 16:22,
Mustang, Nepal. Photo: Wikimedia

Three local governments in Mustang district have demanded with the government that their territories be removed from the list of prohibited zone for foreign visitors.

The government has declared Lomanthang, the whole of Loghekar Damodarkunda and the Baragung Muktikshetra rural municipality-3 as the prohibited areas.

Chairman of Lomanthang rural municipality, Tasi Narbu Gurung, said they have put forth this demand as the inflow of tourists in these areas has not increased since they have to pay higher entry fees to visit these places, which has had an adverse impact on the livelihood of the locals and also on the economic activities there.

"The local tourism business has been adversely affected due to the decrease in the tourist arrivals as the Upper Mustang area has been declared off-limits to foreign visitors and the entry fee to the area is also excessively higher. This is why we have demanded to remove these areas from the list of prohibited zone," he said.

Rural municipality chairman Gurung said that thee chairpersons of the three local governments have submitted an application along with the decision of the locals, the local hotel entrepreneurs and the rural municipalities to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Chief Minister of Gandaki Province Surendra Raj Pandey and Minister for Forests and Environment Dr Birendra Kumar Mahato for removing their areas from the prohibited zone.

According to him, the memorandum was handed to the PM, DPM and Home Minister, the Chief Minister and the Minister when they visited Mustang in the months Asoj and Kattik.

Foreign tourists have to take special permit and pay USD 500 per person for 10 days' visit to Upper Mustang, which is included in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). An extension of the duration of the visit by more than 10 days entails additional fees of Rs 50 per day per person.

Along with Mustang, the government has declared some territories in Manang and Gorkha also as prohibited zone.

Rinzin Gurung, chairman of Baragung Muktikshetra rural municipality, said the foreign visitors do not have easy entry in the prohibited zones and this has caused problems in the income of the locals.

Only 3,388 tourists visited Upper Mustang, which is like semi-prohibited area in the fiscal year 2022/23 as against 71,700 tourists visiting the whole district Mustang, ACAP management office said.


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