A characteristic of our time is that nobody has time – or does not take his time. That affects mountain tourism too. For years, German operators note a decreasing interest in expeditions that take 50 or even 60 days. Simultaneously, more climbers tend to book trips for which they need only 30 leave days. In other words, expeditions to 7000ers are booming, those to 8000ers are ailing. Apparently, the trend “the shorter, the better” also applies to trekking. Experts in Nepal have called to change with the times by offering shorter treks. They said that an increasing number of trekking tourists in Nepal were coming from China and Southeast Asian countries – and those trekkers simply had not time for a three-week trip on the Annapurna circuit or to trek to Everest base camp.
The Chinese are coming
The Chinese seem to have discovered Nepal as a holiday destination. According to data published by the government in Kathmandu, in 2013 for the first time more than 100,000 people from China travelled to Nepal: Within one year the number increased from nearly 72,000 to more than 113,000. About 90 percent of them came for the first time, 70 percent to spend their holidays in Nepal. But following the data from Kathmandu, the Chinese have not yet got enthusiastic about mountain tourism in Nepal. Only 5,388 of them stated in their visa applications that mountaineering or trekking was the purpose of their visit. Regarding this point, China was only in seventh place of the nations ranking, that was led by Germany (9,352), France (8,807) and UK (8,775). But especially young Chinese were being attracted towards soft adventure activities in Nepal like trekking and paragliding, said one of the largest Nepalese operators handling Chinese tourists.
Many Nepalese agencies have already attuned to the new clients with low-time budget. In addition to the classic routes they offer short trips like an “Instant Everest”, an only eight-day-trek in the Khumbu region.
One of the reasons why those shorter trips are possible is that in the most visited areas , such as the Annapurna region, more and more roads are built – at least suitable for jeeps. Environmental protection is not always taken into consideration. But with those new roads, the starting point of new shorter trekking routes can be reached quickly.
In August, the Nepalese government announced that a kind of “Everest highway” would be built: Using this planned 100-km-road from Jiri to Surkhe village, tourists could reach the area around the highest mountain in the world more easily. Surkhe is only about two hours’ walk from Lukla. At present, this traditional starting point for trekkings in the Khumbu region is almost always reached by plane – because a trek takes up rather a lot of time. And hardly anyone has time.
Date6. November 2014 | 0:29