Jan 24, 2024: Phudoma Sherpa, a resident of Khumjung village in Khumbu Pasanglhamu rural municipality-4, is feeling lonely this winter. She mentioned that, unlike previous years, the number of tourists visiting the area is quite low this time.
Last year, the tourist flow was normal, but this winter has brought a sense of concern as fewer visitors are arriving, Phudoma shared. The Sagarmatha National Park Office in Namche also confirmed a 30 percent decline in tourist visits to the Sagarmatha region this winter. According to Manoj Kumar Mandal, the information officer at the Park Office, 1,920 tourists visited the Khumbu area last year, compared to only 1,329 this year.
Out of the total, 455 were domestic tourists, and 1,465 were foreigners last year. Currently, there are 120 Nepalis and 1,209 foreigners in the Khumbu region. The Park Office attributes the decline to the dropping temperatures in the area.
As the cold intensifies, the Khumbu region has become desolate lately. The region typically experiences a tourist season for six months a year, with peak times in the Nepali months of Asoj, Kartik, and Mangsir. During the peak season, up to 1,000 tourists visit the Khumbu region daily. However, currently, there are only five to seven tourists a day, according to information officer Mandal.
Laxman Adhikari, the Chairman of Ward-4, mentioned that tourism entrepreneurs are currently free, and even the locals have left their villages to escape the cold. During the off-season, locals explore new places.
Sujan Kumari Bardewa, Chief of the Area Administration Office in Namche, noted that places like Lukla, Namche, and Khumjung are now quiet with limited movement of people. Many locals descend from the hills to avoid the harsh cold, resulting in public offices recording a negligible number of service seekers.
Tilak BK, a teacher at Khumjung Secondary School, explained, “As winter begins, people here head to warmer places, including Kathmandu, and some even make religious visits to Bodhgaya, India.” Most Khumbu residents prefer staying in Kathmandu during the cold winter months.