Ang Tshering Sherpa, head of the the Union of Asian Alpine Associations, is calling on Nepal to cut the fees on climbing permits in Nepal in order to make them more competitive with Tibet, according to this story from Reuters India. He claims that the exorbitant fees levied by the government are causing more climbers to go to Tibet, where permits are cheaper, and access to base camp is simpler.
The article says that since the end of the struggle with the Maoist rebels back in 2006, tourism has been on the rise in Nepal, for both climbers and trekkers alike. The fear is, however, that many of them will end up merely passing through on their way to Tibet, where they can get similar climbing and trekking opportunities for less money. For one person to climb Everest, the price of the permit alone is $25,000, but the cost drops as you add more climbers. For instance, with 7 climbers on the permit, it is just $70,000, bringing the cost down to just $10k per climber.
Of course, the past two seasons, Nepal hasn’t had to worry about competition with Tibet, as uncertainty over access to the North Side of the mountain meant that most teams stayed in Nepal and climbed the South Side. That’ll likely change in 2010, when it seems as if China is poised to ensure that the Tibetan side of the mountain is open to all. I would imagine that this has caused a number of climbing and trekking companies in Nepal to be a bit concerned, as they could potentially see their potential traffic cut in half, or worse.
Whether or not the government will make any changes to the costs of the permits remains to be seen. At the moment, that government is in a bit of a limbo again following the Maoists walking out in May. This has left things in disarray, while everyone struggles to gain some semblance of order. If I had to guess, I’d say I’d be surprised if there was a price cut for 2010, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Thanks to Himalman’s blog for the tip on this story.
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