Nepal to promote 'war tourism' to cash on decade-long conflict

A new trekking trail to attract more foreigners by allowing them to retrace the memory of Nepal's decade-long Maoist insurgency has been launched by former rebel chief Prachanda to rebuild the country's economy.

The ambitious project 'The Guerrilla Trek' - a 19-day hike - follows trails where thousands of Maoist guerrillas once dug trenches and ambushed enemy during their fight against the once-absolute monarchy. The civil war claimed 16,000 lives.

UCPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda yesterday launched a map and a guide book produced by US author Alonzo Lyons at a programme organised by Nepal Tourism Board in Kathmandu.

The trail has been divided into three sections and is a walk over rugged mountains, forests, rivers, caves and centuries-old villages.

"As all know, Nepal has seen big political upheavals and the people's revolution will be of no value unless the country goes through an economic transformation," Prachanda said at the function.

With peace restored in the country, the Maoist party has now transformed the districts hit by war into a "war tourism" destination.

In 2006, Maoist agreed to lay down arms and participate in the new electoral process and was voted to power two years later.

Guerrilla Trek has the potential of becoming a "war tourism product" like in Vietnam, Russia, and China, he said.

"As war tourism has been promoted worldwide for economic benefit, Nepal's Guerrilla Trek also holds the potential to lure visitors from around the world," he said.

The trek also consists of the Yarsagumba Trail to collect the life giving herb and the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve.

Lyons said there is "plenty of sun-shine for the remote districts like Rukum and Rolpa that were quelled into a seething pot of war once upon a time".

Villages like Khara, Khawla, Jhimkhani, Jibang, Khabang, Bafikot, Kunakhet, Pipal, Rukumkot, Maring, Kakri and Tuksara stand witnesses to the war and retain the scars of a decade of fighting.

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