The number of foreign tourists visiting the popular Upper Mustang area in Mustang increased by 14.17 percent to 3,729 is fiscal year 2013/14.
In the previous fiscal year, the region had welcomed 3,266 foreign tourists, according to the Lo Manthang Office of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP).
Upper Mustang area, which is locally known as Lo Manthang, is one of the popular trekking areas in the country. It is famous for ancient culture and tradition of the local people, centuries old monasteries and monuments, breathtaking sceneries, and sky caves of archaeological importance. Because of these attractions, foreign tourists do not hesitate to buy expensive permits.
The area was closed for foreigner until 1992. The government opened the area in 1992 as a controlled trekking area, fixing quota for the number of foreign tourists. Foreigners need to acquire permit from the Department of Immigration (DoI) by paying US$ 500 per person for 10 days. They need to pay additional $10 for each extra day.
Upper Mustang was included in the list of ‘Top 10 Best Regions to Travel in 2013’ list by Lonely Planet – the largest selling travel guidebook.
Most of the foreign tourists visiting the area in 2013 were from Germany, France and the US.
Meanwhile, revenue collection from foreign tourists heading to Upper Mustang increased to Rs 185 million in 2013/14. In 2012/13, DoI had collected Rs 156.7 million from permit fee. As per the agreement with the locals, the government must allocate 60 percent of the royalty collected from the area for local development through District Development Committee, Mustang.
More than 25,000 foreign tourists have visited Upper Mustang since the area was opened for foreigners in 1992.