TAAN mulling compulsory guides for solo trekkers
KATHMANDU, JUL 21 -
The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal ( TAAN ) said that it was considering making it compulsory for solo trekkers to take a guide to ensure their safety from Sept 1.
TAAN said that the government had banned free independent travellers (FIT) in Langtang National Park after two trekkers went missing in the past three years. The Home Ministry enforced the rule from July 3 following a request by the District Security Committee, Rasuwa. The committee has decided that FITs must be accompanied by at least a guide or a porter.
On Friday, TAAN requested the government that the provision be applied across the country, claiming that there have been no complaints against certified Nepali guides as of now. There are more than 10,000 professional tourist guides including porters in Nepal.
“As travelling alone is the right of tourists, we cannot force them to take along a guide, however, we will advise our clients to go with a guide for their safety,” said Mohan Lamsal, general secretary of TAAN . “The provision can be made mandatory only after the Tourism Ministry makes it a legal or a mandatory provision,” he said.
In June, a 23-year-old Belgian hiker Debbie Maveau was found dead near Langtang National Park. She had gone on a six-day hike to Gosaikund. She was expected to return to Belgium on June 9.
TAAN said that two years ago, Aubrey Caroline Sacco, a student of the University of Colorado, disappeared in the same area. “Similar incidents happened in the Everest region last year,” said Lamsal. He added that increased crime in the trekking areas had raised serious concern, and that the provision should be enforced.
Mohan Krishna Sapkota, joint secretary at the Industry Division of the Tourism Ministry, said that the ministry would reach a decision after holding discussions with all the stakeholders. He added that it would be good if the provision was implemented.
According to Aditya Baral, spokesperson of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), discussions on the issue have been held in the past. “However, we have not received any official letter from anywhere to implement it.” Around 40 percent of all the tourists visiting Nepal go hiking or trekking. TAAN said that hiring a guide would increase the cost for solo travellers, but it would ensure their safety. Currently, only group trekkers are accompanied by guides, and only a few FITs take along a guide or porters.
Posted on: 2012-07-21 08:43