The decision, taken by Nepal Tourism Board, will come into force from April 1. However, it doesn’t apply to the local trekkers from Nepal
In a bid to ensure their safety, the Nepal government has made it mandatory for solo foreign trekkers to hire a guide in order to help them safely navigate the treacherous routes.
The decision, which was taken by Nepal Tourism Board, will come into force from April 1. However, it doesn’t apply to the local trekkers from Nepal.
“This decision has been made for the tourists’ benefit. While going on solo treks, tourists often get lost and might face insecurities. In order to mitigate that we have come to the decision to put a ban on solo treks. Starting from April 1, guides are mandatory for adventure tourism,” Maniraj Lamichhane, director of Nepal Tourism Board, told ANI.
As per the data released by the board, more than 46,000 tourists trekked without a guide or a porter in Nepal in 2019. At that time, these tourists had to just obtain a route permit and a Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) card.
But from April 1, no solo foreign trekker will be issued a TIMS card permit without hiring a porter or a guide for his journey. In addition, the authorities have also increased the charges of a trekking permit for trekkers.
While the tourism bodies have been canvassing for the move since long, the recent decision has evoked mixed reactions from the Nepali’s tourism industry.
Nilhari Bastola, president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told Kathmandu Post that the move would increase employment and ensure the safety of foreign travellers.
“We have estimated that roughly 40,000 Nepalis will get new employment if the rule is enforced,” said Bastola.
But many are expressing reservation that the decision might impact a trekker’s freedom.
Since many independent travellers are price-conscious, the mandatory hiring of a guide might put an extra burden on their pockets.
“Imposing this rule would take away the possibility for many hikers to experience your beautiful mountains. Furthermore, true adventurers will no longer be able to explore your country with their own freedom,” Niel Smit, a foreign tourist told Kathmandu Post.
Tourism is one of the key economic sectors for the small South Asian nation neighboured by vast countries like India and China. According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, 20 percent of Nepal’s workforce is employed by the tourism industry which contributes to three per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
In 2019, a year before the Covid-19 pandemic, a total of 1.3 million foreign tourists entered the country via plane. A huge number of foreign tourists also enter the country through various land routes every year.