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Nepal says tourists trekking in Himalayas must hire local guides

The rule, which will take effect from April 1, is designed to ensure the safety of travelers and create more jobs.

Nepal has made it mandatory for all tourists venturing into the country’s Himalayan region to hire local aid, officials say.

The rule, which will take effect from April 1, is intended to ensure the safety of travelers and create more jobs, the dpa news agency reports.

Mani Raj Lamichhane, spokesman for the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the agency behind the decision, said on Tuesday that every tourist must hire a guide or porter through a registered trekking company.

The new rule applies to established trekking routes within the scope of the Trekkers’ Information Management System, where every trekker, including free independent trekkers, must obtain permission from the NTB.

Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, and other Himalayan peaks seen through an airplane window (File: Monika Deupala/Reuters)

However, the new rule does not affect the climbing industry, which has its own regulations.

“It will help ensure a safe trekking experience while allowing us to track trekkers and provide timely rescue services in case of emergencies,” said Lamichhane, adding that the decision was made in consultation with the country’s Trekking Agencies’ Association and Joint Tourism . Trade union forum.

According to Lamichhane, NTB receives about 40 to 50 cases of missing hikers along the trail each year, and authorities often have trouble tracking and rescuing them.

Previously, tourists were allowed to trek solo without local assistance or with unregistered guides or friends.

Nilhari Bastola, the president of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, said the new regulation would benefit both trekkers and the tourism industry.

“The majority of people who die or disappear while trekking are those who go alone without a guide or knowledge of the terrain. These tragedies could have been avoided if they had a local guide,” he said.

Several trekking routes in Nepal are remote, often without roads, communication facilities and far from human settlements. In an emergency, it can take several hours to days to rescue tractors in these areas due to the challenging terrain and lack of infrastructure.

The move is expected to provide a huge boost to local tourism and create employment for thousands of guides and porters whose livelihoods have been affected by the slowdown in tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While most Nepal stakeholders have hailed the decision as a win-win for tourists and high-altitude workers, there are concerns that the new rule could discourage travelers from visiting Nepal and hit the industry that is gradually recovering from the pandemic of the coronavirus.

In February, Nepal received a total of 73,255 tourists via air travel, which is almost four times the number of tourists arriving during the same period last year, according to the NTB.

Nepal is home to some of the world’s most popular trekking routes, such as the Annapurna Circuit below Mount Annapurna and the Everest Base Camp trek in the foothills of Mount Everest.