The minute tourists get off their buses and vans, they are surrounded by street peddlers who pull their hands, and haggle them until they give in and buy the goods out of sheer desperation. The harassment is worse around protected world heritage sites like the durbar squares, where visitors say they neither feel safe nor comfortable despite paying exorbitant fees (sometimes as high as Rs 1,100) to the municipality. The officials and police officers never intervene, but rather watch on as the tourists are picked apart.
Mark Hurbon from Germany was roaming through Bhaktapur when he was hounded by three street vendors. "I came to Nepal to see its beautiful architecture and geography and take photographs. But the hawkers constantly nagged me and didn't even let me take photos. That incident dampened my whole experience," Hurbon recalls.
Although the information department of Bhaktapur Municipality claims that hawkers are banned from the site, there are at least a 100 of them in the durbar square area alone. Tourism entrepreneurs say the municipality has failed to provide security and vital services for the visitors so far. Unless there is stricter enforcement of rules and until services are upgraded, tourists will continue to suffer.