Jan 02, 2023: In 2023, the Annapurna region in Nepal welcomed the highest number of tourists ever, welcoming 191,558 visitors. This is a significant increase compared to 2019, when there were 181,000 tourists, making it the second-highest influx. The rise in tourist arrivals signals a strong recovery from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global tourism.

Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) Chief Dr. Rabin Kadariya noted that last year was historic for the Annapurna region, with a remarkable increase in South Asian visitors, reaching 97,554 compared to 53,710 in 2019. However, arrivals from other countries decreased from 127,290 in 2019 to 94,004 in 2023.

The Annapurna region attracted people from 173 countries, with the highest number (96,187) from India, followed by 8,526 from France, 7,641 from Germany, 7,249 from the United States, 7,174 from the UK, and 6,323 from China. The tourism industry in the region seems to have bounced back after a significant decline during COVID-19. In 2021, there were 16,105 tourist arrivals, which increased more than eightfold to 129,733 in 2022.

Dr. Kadariya expressed concerns about the decreasing appeal of the region for European and American tourists, attributing it to the expansion of road facilities threatening the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The recent developments in road infrastructure underscore the need to preserve the natural beauty and charm of the region.

The Annapurna region, listed as one of the world’s top 10 tourist destinations, offers various trekking routes, including Annapurna Base Camp, Mardi Himal, Ghodepani, Tilicho Lake in Manang, Thorong-La Pass, Upper Mustang, and the Muktinath region. It has gained global recognition, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visiting last year, praising Nepal’s natural beauty and Himalayan heritage.

Despite the challenges, the region remains popular among tourists for its natural beauty, biodiversity, Himalayan way of life, and cultural attractions. Tourist guide Divas Gurung emphasized the enchanting qualities that make the Annapurna region a preferred destination for visitors.