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Tuesday, 25 December, 2001, 12:12 GMT
More Himalayan peaks opened
Mount Everest
The Himalayas attract hundreds of climbers every year
By the BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

Nepali authorities have decided to give international climbers access to another 100 Himalayan peaks in 2002.

This raises the total of Himalayan mountains open to overseas climbers to over 260.

The move will generate more employment and revitalise the economy

Bhumi Lal Lama

The move has been hailed as a major initiative to revive the country's tourism industry.

The industry has recently suffered serious setbacks. And officials of the umbrella organisation of the Nepalese climbers say the government's decision will give a vital boost to tourism.

Bhumi Lal Lama, General Secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, says the move will generate more employment and revitalise the economy of the poverty-stricken hill areas.

Officials at the Nepal Tourism Board agree.

They say the move will contribute to bringing the struggling tourism industry back on track.

Two women climbers
More climbing expeditions expected

Tourism is a major source of foreign currency earnings in Nepal. It also employs several hundred thousand people.

But labour strikes and security concerns due to a Maoist insurgency have recently caused a big slump.

Tourist arrivals this year dropped by a fifth of the average annual figure of about 500,000, and so did the country's foreign currency earnings.

Economic hopes

Authorities say a campaign will soon be launched to improve the situation.

The opening of the new peaks for climbing is said to be a beginning.

Climbing fees are a major source of foreign currency earnings for Nepal.

Fees range from $1,500 to 10,000 depending on the height of the peak.

The world's highest mountain, the Everest, is an exception.

Mount Everest
Tourism growth could stop downturn

It fetches $50,000 from every climbing team.

More climbing teams would also mean more business for the local travel and tourism agencies.

And that could translate into increased economic activities in the impoverished hill regions which lie on the way to the mountains.

Widespread poverty has been described as a key reason behind the strength of the ongoing Maoist rebellion in these remote regions.

See also:

13 Dec 01 | South Asia
Gloomy outlook for Nepal economy
06 Dec 01 | South Asia
Nepal's tourist industry suffers slump
24 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Himalayan quake warning
25 May 01 | South Asia
More Everest records broken
01 May 01 | South Asia
Tributes to Nepal's Everest hero
01 Apr 01 | South Asia
Everest clean-up mounted
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