NTB mandates licensed trekking guide to all foreign trekkers

- By Dibyak Kapali |

Image Source: Devraj Bajgain from Pixabay
Image Source: Devraj Bajgain from Pixabay

The Nepal government has prohibited foreign travelers (solo or in groups) from trekking expeditions without accompanying a licensed trekking guide. 

“A government-licensed guide is now required for travelers who want to trek in remote areas, including obtaining a Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card from authorized trekking agencies registered with the Government of Nepal”, says the press release by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The regulation shall come into effect from April 1st, 2023. The decree shall however not pertain to Nepali nationals.

NTB took the decision after a series of discussions with trekking and expedition stakeholders and relevant trade unions in Nepal, to help mitigate adverse incidents like — getting lost en route, health issues, and/or natural disasters.

Several travel companies have applauded the board’s decision, describing it as a victory for both the Nepalese economy and the safety of tourists considering that the cost of search and rescue operations for solo hikers who get lost is substantial.

Nevertheless, some expressed worries that the prohibition will deter trekkers from visiting Nepal at a time when the economy has been severely impacted.

Earlier, the country had banned solo adventurers from climbing Mount Everest back in 2018.

Easy travel access and mountaineering popularity worldwide has caused Nepal — home to eight of the world’s highest mountains and stunning rural trekking area — to become swamped and has resulted in a “traffic jam on Mount Everest” that can be hazardous for weary climbers because it compels them to spend more time at extremely high altitudes and deprives them of oxygen.

Trekkers who travel alone frequently do so for a variety of reasons, including the liberty to choose the location, duration, pace, and scope of a trek. 

Five to six foreign trekkers go missing annually while hiking treacherous routes alone, shared an inspector with Nepal’s Tourist Police. “The unprepared trekkers, who don’t have support guides, die due to the high-altitude sickness.” The difficulties brought on by hikers going missing in rural regions are exacerbated by unauthorized tour operators.

The Nepal government decided to enforce the broad prohibition as it lacks the resources to individually scrutinize each applicant's visa.

On a similar note, owing to a string of accidents that led to injuries and even deaths, Bali, the famous Indonesian island, plans to ban foreign tourists from riding motorcycles to get around the island and would restricted to driving only cars leased from travel agencies.

According to local police statistics, from late February to early March, more than 171 foreign tourists have broken traffic laws. The specifics of the plan to prohibit tourists from renting motorbikes have not yet been finalized but the Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said, “You [should] not roam about the island using motorbikes, without wearing shirts or clothes, no helmet, and even without a license.”

Dibyak Kapali is a researcher and a social media lead at the_farsight and a student of microbiology.

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