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New Everest incentives launched
Nepal is planning a big reduction in climbing fees for Mount Everest in a bid to attract more expeditions in the low season, the government says.
The tourism minister said the government was working on proposals for a 50% cut in autumn season fees and a 75% drop in the winter rate.
Permits can currently cost about $10,000 a head.
Since the end of the Maoist rebellion last year, the government has been trying to boost tourism.
Dozens of mountaineering teams, paying at least $70,000, climb to the 8,850m (29,035ft) summit during the main climbing season that runs from March to May.
The cost of equipment, travel, porters and accommodation means that mountaineers can expect to spend on average $25,000 each.
But correspondents say the tallest mountain in the world remains virtually deserted in the autumn and winter.
“We want to give incentives to off-season climbers to go to Mount Everest,” Tourism Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung told the Reuters news agency.
The autumn climbing season is from September to November and the winter season from December to January.
At least 520 climbers reached the summit of Mount Everest from Nepal and Tibet during this year’s main climbing season, the highest number since the mountain was first climbed by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.
Environmental groups have warned that Mount Everest’s fragile biodiversity could be harmed by the increasing numbers of visitors.
Observers expect most climbers still to favour the spring because the weather is warmer and there is more daylight.