Solo Trekking Banned In Nepal for foreign tourists
Nepal Tourism Board has announced a new policy from April 1st, 2023, in which foreign tourists are prohibited from going on unguided treks. Maniraj Lamicchane, the director of the Nepal Tourism Board, has announced that this decision needed to be implemented to increase the safety of tourists.
According to Lamichhane, due to the increased unguided treks, many tourists have got themselves into trouble, and since they are traveling unguided, they are also hard to rescue.
Over 50,000 tourists worldwide used to travel alone without any guide before COVID-19 Pandemic as they were regarded as Free Individual Trekkers or FIT.
The Tourist Information Management System (TIMS) or Nepal Tourism Board used to provide TIMS cards to the free tourist that were used as a permit to visit restricted areas or the areas that needed permits.
After announcing the new policy, Lamichhane added that the board would not issue any more FIT TIMS cards and would only issue TIMS cards for permitted treks.
Previously the TIMS card for FIT would cost NRS 2000, and the free trek TIMS would cost only NRS 1000. However, from April 1st, all the TIMS cards will cost NRS 2,000.
According to the director, although the price has increased, the trek will be more secure and easier to rescue in case of any problems, which will help tourists’ safety in general.
After the decision by the Nepal Tourism Board, the general response has been quite mixed among the local public and foreign tourists. Some welcome the new policy pointing out that it will create additional protection and safety for the tourist, and the chances of them being rescued will improve.
However, on the other hand, people also raised several questions about the freedom of tourists. According to them, it restricted the tourist movement and blamed the board for creating a unique opportunity to increase their source of income without any reason.
The response of both parties may be valid; however, there is no point in looking the other way regarding the safety of tourists and easy assessment for their rescue.
Only time will provide the definitive answer on whether the policy change was necessary or it was just another way to increase fees or expenses.
Hence Nepal Tourism Board has decided to increase the security and safety of tourist trekkers in Nepal by prohibiting unguided trekking.
Approximately 30 tourists were found dead due to adverse weather or health issue in the higher altitude of Nepal. Since they were alone without any guide, it was more challenging to rescue the tourists who were lost and were out of contact.
Nepal Tourism Board hopes their new policy will increase the safety of foreign tourists who arrive in Nepal from worldwide.