HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Government has been losing revenue due to arbitrary distribution of Trekkers’ Management Information System (TIMS) cards, alleged trekking guides.
The government had introduced the Trekkers’ Management Information System cards on April 1, 2010 to make trekking safer but the arbitrary distribution of the cards has hurt revenues, they said.
“Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) have been jointly implementing TIMS but the delay in appointment of the NTB board and chief executive has delayed the regulation of TIMS that is expected to make it more effective, said president of TAAN Mahendra Singh Thapa.
The number of trekkers is increasing but the trekking business has not seen any increment, he said, attributing the largely unregulated trekking agencies for the revenue leakage.
The government had scrapped trekking permit system but failed to bring the regulation that would help regulate the sector resulting in not only loss of revenue but also giving foreign trekking firms an open field that has hit domestic trekking firms, he added.
NTB and TAAN had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on March 18, 2010 to implement the TIMS system under a new format from April 1, 2010. Under the MoU, they have introduced separate TIMS cards for Free Individual Trekkers and organised group trekkers.
Individual trekkers need to have a green TIMS card that costs $20 per person, while those travelling in groups need to have a blue TIMS card worth $10 per person. “However, there is no record of the blue TIMS cards bought by group trekkers,” the agencies blamed, adding that individual trekkers should also be checked till the TIMS software comes into practice as it has neither been able to create employment nor generate revenue.
However, Thapa claimed that the software is ready and will come into operation soon, and will help track trekkers in case they lose their way or meet with any accident on the trekking route. Trekkers taking the service of trekking agencies can pay the fee for TIMS card in US dollars, whereas individuals have to pay in Nepali currency equivalent to $20.
The revenue is shared equally among NTB, TAAN and a fund that has been established to promote trekking and rescue porters.
In 2011, the TIMS card fetched Rs 80 million and this year it is expected to fetch Rs 100 million, but it could have been more, if the system had been implemented with regulations and a proper card distribution channel.