TAAN urges NTB to utilise TIMS fund

Kathmandu, April 18

The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has said that the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) should utilise the amount collected from Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) card during the current crisis brought on by coronavirus pandemic.

The country has been locked down for the last 26 days to prevent the coronavirus from spreading due to which the economy has been affected and the tourism sector has been hit the hardest. And from among the businesses within the tourism industry it is the trekking sector that has borne the biggest hit, said Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of TAAN.

“It is crystal clear to everybody that the country’s mountain tourism has collapsed at present as a result of the coronavirus and people, especially workers, in this sector have been highly affected,” he said. “Hence, TAAN has requested even the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), including other concerned authorities, to bring the amount collected through TIMS card into utilisation by providing relief and wages to the workers.”

As TIMS fund is jointly managed by NTB and TAAN, Subedi said that TAAN has requested NTB to cooperate. “There is no business at all not only in Nepal but across the world and workers who have to rely on this seasonal profession are in trouble now as the virus hit the industry in the beginning of the spring season,” he said. “So, TAAN has urged the tourism board to use money collected through issuance of TIMS cards to help the workers.”

Currently, around Rs 160 million has been collected in TIMS fund. Distribution of TIMS card came into operation in 2008 to ensure the safety and security of trekkers and to control illegal trekking operations. Since then, TAAN has been issuing TIMS cards to group trekkers, while NTB distributes it to free individual trekkers.

Issuing a notice today, TAAN has also requested all the workers working in trekking and mountaineering sectors to inform TAAN about their problems and expectations from the authorities.

As per MoCTCA, around 1.1 million tourism workers are unemployed at the moment.

Hence, the ministry is preparing to mobilise the workers in different sectors of the tourism industry.

The ministry has also stated that management and mobilisation of tourism workers will be addressed through the government’s policy and programme for the next fiscal year.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.