Hotels operating in ACAP start getting registeredA large number of hotels and restaurants operating in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) have started getting registered.
A large number of hotels and restaurants operating in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) have started getting registered.
Babu Lal Tiruwa, chief of ACAP’s Manang office, said tourist-standard hotels and restaurants have formally started to register their businesses after it issued a 45-day notice. “After a long discussion, hoteliers finally agreed to abide with the law,” he said.
According to Lal Prasad Gurung, director of ACAP’s central office in Pokhara, around 150 hotels and restaurants, including tourism services providers, operate in the project area. Among them, 40 hotels and restaurants had not been registered. “One-third of them have now been registered under the Forest Act,” said Gurung.
The entrepreneurs had been refusing to get their businesses registered, citing high registration fee and compulsion to travel to Pokhara for the registration process. “After ACAP simplified the registration process, the entrepreneurs agreed to register their firms,” said Binod Gurung, president of Manang Tourism Entrepreneurs Association.
The entrepreneurs had demanded the registration fee be lowered and the revenue collected be used for local tourism development. They had also demanded a registration office be set up in Manang and the government provide a 50 percent discount on annual renewal fee. “All the demands were addressed,” said Gurung.
Last fiscal year too, the ACAP office in Pokhara had issued such a notice twice, but none of the entrepreneurs complied.
Last year, ACAP had fixed the registration fee at Rs50,000 to Rs100,000 depending on the nature of the hotels. For restaurants, the fee was set at Rs20,000 to Rs50,000.
As per the new fee structure introduced this year, the charge ranges from Rs30,000 to Rs70,000, depending on capacity of hotels. For restaurants, the fee ranges from Rs10,000 to Rs50,000. ACAP is yet to introduce renewal fee guidelines.
The world-famous Annapurna circuit received more foreign trekkers than ever before in 2016. According to ACAP, the circuit received 22,108 foreign trekkers through Lamjung’s Beshishar route, up 38.42 percent compared to 2015 figure. In 2013, the circuit had received 21,207 trekkers, which had dropped to 13,615 in 2014.
The trekking trail of Annapurna had seen a sharp decline in trekkers’ numbers during the decade-long Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) when the figure had declined 29 percent. The year 2015 was the worse year as the number of trekkers had nosedived by 34 percent. ACAP said the number of foreign trekkers to the circuit in 2016 was the highest since the project started to collect tourist data in 1996.