Trekking guides dissatisfied with new tourism act


The new Tourism Act that was recently drafted by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has been submitted to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for further discussions before it is approved.

However, the trekking guides are not very happy with the act.

The Trekking Guide Association of Nepal (TGAN) and Sustainable Mountain Tourism Network (SMTN) submitted a letter to Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai on Monday requesting for an amendment to Subsection 5 of Section 28 of the Tourism Act.

The concerned subsection of the act has made it mandatory for tourists to take along trekking guides while going on a trek to conservation zones or high-altitude areas. “However, the trekking guides have stated that the demand of making it mandatory to take trekking guides on treks has been addressed in a vague way, thus the government has to amend this particular section,” said Ambar Tamang, former vice-president of the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) and also a coordinator at SMTN.

“The government has addressed our demand in a vague way so we want this particular subsection to be amended and made more precise,” he said, adding, “Moreover the demand to stop issuing Free Individual Trekker permits has also not been considered in the act.” As the government seems indifferent towards this issue despite holding numerous discussions the stakeholders have again raised the issue, Tamang added.

The guides have requested the ministry to make hiring trekking guides mandatory for routes that are 2,500 metres above sea level and mention it specifically in the act instead of just mentioning high-altitude areas.

“During our meeting on Monday, the tourism minister assured us that he will do the needful to amend this section,”

Tamang informed, adding, “Although the act has already been forwarded to the Law Ministry, officials of the tourism ministry have also assured us that the law can be amended.”

Meanwhile, Sharki Sherpa, general secretary of TGAN, has accused the government of not addressing their demands. “This is not a new issue. We have been asking the government for the same thing for so long and finally when the Tourism Act is about to be implemented soon, it still has not addressed our demands in a precise manner,” he said. He further added that the act might benefit only mountaineering guides.

In the mean time, the Tourism Ministry has claimed that the subsection had been added in the act considering the demands of the stakeholders. It also expects this section to monitor, control and regulate trekking activities and help in rescue operations along with maintaining financial discipline.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.