KATHMANDU, Nepal–Aiming to increase tourism activities in the country and branch out investment in the mountain regions, the government is mulling over to lease out as many as 1,600 virgin peaks for at least 30 years to private parties who will manage them and collect fees from climbers.
“The main idea of leasing the virgin peaks is to increase tourism activities by involving the private,” an official at the Tourism Ministry said.
Sources at the Ministry further informed that it is being discussed over the issue and will finalize the lease modality soon. Though there are more than 1,600 virgin summits in the country, the government has so far opened 310 peaks, and only a few of them have been able to lure climbers.
Officials believe that bringing in private parties to manage peaks would provide an impulse for the locals to invest in tourism sectors.
Experts said that the idea of leasing out unexplored mountains is good, but the government has to do regular monitoring after the peaks are handed over to private management. Ang Tshiring Sherpa, president of the NMA said NMA recommended the government for leasing peaks for six to seven years as a pilot project.
The government has come up with new strategy to promote mountain tourism seeing its increasing potential to lessen poverty.
Just a few weeks ago, the government announced to slash mountaineering royalties for peaks including Everest. Likewise, in 2008 it waived climbing fees for mountaineers to scale peaks in the id- and Far Western regions for five years.
A study conducted jointly by the government and the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) shows that Nepal lodges as many as 3,310 peaks (including walking and climbing peaks above 5,500 m). Among them, 1,913 are climbing peaks that require the use of mountaineering gear. Likewise, there are 1,300 peaks higher than 6,000 m, and among them, 16 peaks are above 8,000 m and 122 peaks are higher than 7,000 m.