The government has announced that it will set up a welfare fund to help mountaineering and trekking workers at times of rescue and emergency.
Tulsi Prasad Gautam, director general of the Department of Tourism, said that 10 percent of the fees raised from the Trekking Information Management System (Tims) cards would be allocated for the fund.
According to him, the government has already endorsed the decision and the fund is likely to be set up within a few weeks.
“The last year’s disaster was a ‘lesson learnt’ for us. It has exposed a bitter reality that we need to do a lot to ensure climbers’ safety,” Gautam said, addressing a gathering in Kathmandu to mark the anniversary of Mt Everest’s deadliest avalanche that killed 16 high-altitude guides on April 18 last year.
As mountain tourism is our valuable product and source of national income, the government is committed to do everything that is needed to assure safety and security of the foreign visitors.
The government has made it mandatory for trekkers and mountaineers to obtain a Tims card before setting out on trekking and mountaineering missions.
A foreign trekker has to pay Rs1,000, while a mountaineer has to pay Rs2,000 to obtain the card.
Similarly, trekkers in groups and FITs from Saarc countries will have to pay fee of Rs 300 and Rs 600 respectively.
Earlier, Tims fee for trekking in the Everest, Langtang and Annapurna regions was $10 for tourists travelling in groups and $20 for those travelling independently.
Of the total revenue collected from Tims, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (NTB), and a joint fund of NTB and TAAN will receive 30 percent each and the rest will go to the welfare fund, according to Gautam. The government collected Rs 180 million from the TIMS card last year.
“The fund will ensure at least Rs18 million is mobilised annually to help the needy mountaineering and trekking workers,” he said. More than 40 percent of foreign visitors to Nepal come for trekking, many of them opting for Annapurna, Langtang and Khumbu regions.