Mount Everest's Appeal Grows despite Violent Unrest in Nepal
Davies, Elizabeth, The Independent (London, England)
Mount Everest has maintained its magnetism for mountaineers, with foreign climbers continuing to take on the world's highest mountain despite violent political unrest in Nepal since February.
While tourism figures for the rest of the country have dropped sharply since King Gyanendra seized extra powers and declared a state of emergency earlier this year, the number of people trying to reach the summit of Everest has gone up.
The tourism ministry in Kathmandu said yesterday that it had issued 19 permits to foreign expeditions planning to climb Everest this season, up from 13 last year.
'The attraction of Mount Everest is growing among foreign climbers, who are not afraid of the current situation in the country,' Shankar Prasad Pandey of the ministry said.
Tourists account for about 4 per cent of Nepal's gross domestic product. But the political problems since February have severely damaged the industry. The number of visitors has fallen 32 per cent to 53,170 over the past three months, down from 78,206 last year.
Travel advisories in the UK, Europe and America warn tourists against booking holidays in Nepal for fear of a Maoist insurgency and the government- enforced state of emergency. …