The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has revised procedures of the Trekking Information Management System (TIMS).
This new provision is designed to ensure the safety and security of visitors trekking in protected areas in the mountains of Nepal. With the new provision, all trekkers are required to obtain services of a licensed trekking guide and to obtain a TIMS Card through authorized trekking agencies registered with the Government of Nepal. The new provision shall come into effect on March 31, 2023.
The decision has been made subsequent to a series of discussions with trekking and exhibition stakeholders and relevant trade unions in Nepal to help mitigate adverse incidents such as getting lost en-route, health issues, and/or natural disasters. With the implementation, trekkers will have immediate access to a professional support system and will help in addressing the challenges of rescue operations in case of any unwarranted situation.
Three Nepali guides also went missing for a period as they lost their way in the snow. In that same year, trekkers have gone missing, some to be later found and some who remain missing. Some were with guides, some were trekking alone. Some had guides who allowed them to go forward on their own.
In November, a group of 22 people including 12 foreigners, 8 porters, and 2 guides, went on the Annapurna Circuit trek. As they were trekking, the weather turned bitterly cold leading to the deaths of 2 Thai citizens. All in all, 2022 was a bad year of missing trekkers and fatalities in Nepal.
Looking at previous years, in 2019, there were 2 missing trekkers who were found deceased. In 2018, there were 3 confirmed missing trekkers but a total of 7 unconfirmed missing trekkers. This is compared to 2017 which had 5 missing trekkers, and in 2016, which also had 5 missing trekkers. Overall, the standard of trekking safety in Nepal has plummeted.
In addition to safety, the new provision will create employment for workers in the tourism sector in Nepal and discourage unauthorized trekking operations in the country.
The fees for the TIMS Card have been revised to NPR 1000 per person for SAARC citizens and NPR 2000 for the rest of the world. The provision for Diplomatic Missions in Nepal will remain as before, however, accompaniment by a licensed guide shall be required. Fees, passport photocopy, and passport size photographs are required to obtain the TIMS Card.
Detailed guidelines for the new provision will be published shortly, with NTB stating that it is positive this step will pave the way for sustainable, responsible, and eco-friendly tourism in the Himalayan region of Nepal.