Amid Rising Tourist Deaths, Ladakh Authorities Make 48-Hour Acclimatisation Must

The order comes in the wake of 11 deaths reported only in the last two months in Leh's higher locations due to altitude-related complications.

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New Delhi: Authorities in Ladakh have now made 48-hour acclimatisation, to avert any acute mountain sickness (AMS), mandatory for tourists arriving in Leh before they continue with their journey in the mountainous region, according to Indian Express.

The order comes in the wake of 11 deaths reported only in the last two months in Leh’s higher locations, including Pangong Tso lake at 4,225 metres above sea level, Changla (5,360 metres) and Khardung La (5,359 metres). Of the 11 casualties, four of them died in the first 10 days of June.

Overall 15 died tourists died until June 10 this year and 11 of them succumbed to altitude-related complications. The number of deaths of tourists this year has been the highest in the last three years – the number for 2020 and 2021 stood at six and one, respectively.

To take stock of the situation, the chief executive councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Tashi Gyalson, convened a meeting with officials and other stakeholders related to the tourism industry locally.

Gyalson instructed stakeholders to comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs) formulated by the district administration for managing visitors entering Leh during the peak tourist season, including their medical condition properly, a Times of India report said.

He also told the officials and stakeholders to run joint awareness campaigns camps and IEC (information, education and communication) campaigns to spread awareness among the locals working in the tourism industry.

According to the Indian Express report, there has been a spurt in the number of tourists reaching Leh via air travel, who get less time to get accustomed to weather conditions. Of the 3.14 lakh tourists who visited Leh in 2021, over 2.14 lakh reached by air. According to this year’s data, available until March, 97% of tourists made it to Leh by air travel. Due to the easing of restrictions, imposed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of tourists visiting Leh in the last year have gone up.

“Tourists start visiting high altitude areas right on the day they land in Leh or the next day. They are under the impression that they are fit and nothing would happen,” the IE report quoted an official as saying.