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SOLUKHUMBU: Phudoma Sherpa, a resident of Khumjung village in Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality-4, is experiencing a sense of desolation this winter.
Despite normal tourist arrivals in previous years, she expresses concern over the bleak scenario this time. “Last year, we had a usual number of tourists, but the noticeable decline in visitors is troubling this winter,” she shared.
The Sagarmatha National Park Office in Namche has officially confirmed a significant 30 percent decrease in tourist arrivals in the Sagarmatha region this year. While 1,920 tourists explored the Khumbu area last year, only 1,329 have visited this year, according to Manoj Kumar Mandal, the information officer at the Park Office.
Breaking down the numbers, last year saw 455 domestic tourists and 1,465 foreigners, whereas this year, there were 120 Nepalis and 1,209 foreign visitors to the Khumbu region.
The Khumbu region has taken on a desolate appearance recently, attributed to the dropping temperatures, as mentioned by the Park Office.
Typically, this region experiences a tourist season lasting six months a year, with peak times during the Nepali months of Asoj, Kartik, and Mangsir.
During the peak season, the Khumbu region welcomes up to 1,000 tourists daily. However, the current situation reports a mere five to seven tourists, added information officer Mandal.
Laxman Adhikari, the Chairman of Ward-4, mentioned that tourism entrepreneurs are currently idle, and even the locals have migrated from villages to escape the cold.
In the off-season, locals often explore new destinations. Sujan Kumari Bardewa, Chief of the Area Administration Office in Namche, stated that Lukla, Namche, and Khumjung are currently dismal with limited human movement. Many locals prefer descending to lower altitudes to escape the biting cold.
Bardewa added that public offices are also registering a negligible number of service seekers during this period.
Tilak BK, a teacher at Khumjung Secondary School, revealed, “As winter sets in, the locals head to warmer places, including Kathmandu, and some embark on religious visits to Bodhgaya, India.” Most Khumbu residents choose to stay in Kathmandu during the cold weather. RSS
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