Destroying the trekking routes

Pokhara-Jomson bus service will do more harm to tourism than good

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

A recently started bus service from Pokhara to Jomsom has hit the headlines of local newspapers. Prithvi National Highway Bus Operators Committee (PNHBC) and Mustang Jeep and Bus Entrepreneurs Committee had an agreement to operate direct bus service from Pokhara to Jomsom.

This bus service as said has been started to facilitate the local people of the area, pilgrims, domestic and foreign tourists. The reality is actually very different. This bus service will benefit a handful people rest will get nothing at all. In long term many local people and their small business will be overtaken or dislodged by the big investors from Pokhara and elsewhere.

Road construction on trekking route will not benefit local people

There are some leading hotels, restaurants, bus operating associations and local syndicates who were much eager to start a direct bus service from Pokhara to Jomsom. However, local syndicates on the very route from Pokhara to Jomsom vastly disagreed with the proposal put forward by the Pokhareli group of entrepreneurs. That proposal as they blamed gave more benefits to Pokhareli investors alone. Now Pokhareli entrepreneurs and local syndicates are trying to reach to an agreement so that the benefits can be shared equally. Hence, in the present bus service these investors look for their own benefits. Even the local businessmen of Myagdi and Jomsom will not have much benefit because major business of these areas will be overtaken by the local businessmen of Pokhara and Kathmandu. Local businessmen cannot compete against them. So, in the end local businessmen of these areas will be dislodged or they have to work for the big investors. Never forget that big fish always eats smaller ones.

This bus service will divert trekkers to other countries

Yes, this is true. If trekking destinations are linked with roads, then no trekkers would like to come to Nepal for the trekking. Until now majority of tourists visit Nepal for trekking. But many of the trekking routes, which were popular among the trekkers, now ply motors and belching out carbon in the atmosphere. Just think…will trekkers like to walk on a road where rickety motors move and leave behind black, dense fumes? Definitely no trekkers would like to walk on such roads. By developing roads on trekking routes have already diverted a sizable number of tourists and in future more trekking lovers will stop visiting Nepal. The way trekking routes are converted into motorable roads, it seems that soon there will be no trekking routes left on which trekkers can trek peacefully.

Only a handful people will be benefited

It is obviously certain that road construction on the trekking routes will divert many trekking loving tourists. Then who will be making profit out of the transportation service especially on the trekking routes. They are big investors who have invested huge amount of money in hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, transportation, etc will get direct benefits…rest will get nothing or very nominal profits. The local people may get little economic benefits but as a whole they will, in future, get nominal benefits.

Big investors will always take advantage as they are financially much stronger and more resourceful. Hence, a big chunk of profits will invariably go in the pockets of rich investors. If local people of Myagdi and Jomsom are aware of such things then they should stand together and immediately stop any bus service on all trekking routes of the country. Because this will do little good but more harm.

Transport mafia has become very active over the last a few years on Pokhara–Beni-Jomsom route. This mafia does not care about nation, tourism or the benefits of the local people. What they care about is the cash to their pockets. They will never think of negative repercussions in future after running old vehicles on trekking routes. They only want quick bucks by hook or by crook. For example you can see the role of land mafia in the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport. Frontlinenepal has already published a news story about this matter.

In the past Myagdi Transport Committee and Jomsom Transport Committee were solely providing with transport services for the local people of this region. Hence, Pokhareli transport entrepreneurs were not being able to make more profit out of this. Now, Jomsom, Myagdi and Pokhara Transport Entrepreneurs are working out for a deal to get equal share of profit in their pockets. And all this will happen at the cost of local tourism. For short term they might make profit but in long run these greedy transport entrepreneurs will not be able to make more profit as no trekkers will come to visit this region. They will certainly divert to other destinations.

If local people are aware enough then a collective efforts should be made by them to keep all vehicles off the road and hold all key business related to tourism. Such business should only be run by the local people of the reason, not by the outsiders. If this is done only then the living standard of the local people will improve. If not then the financial condition of the poor, local people will remain the same and rich will get richer.

About the author

LB Thapa is a travel blogger from Nepal. He is also an author and journalist. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His books are available on www.amazon.com

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