"DoT working out action plan to manage spring season mountain expeditions"

KATHMANDU: The Department of Tourism (DoT) is all set to come out with an action plan to manage the mountaineering expeditions in the spring season at the earliest.

Under Secretary Mira Acharya, who heads the mountaineering section at DoT under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that her office would publicise an action plan along with the standard operating procedure (SOP) in a day or two for smooth management of the spring expeditions on different mountains. "DoT is working out the action plan and SOP."

"As the coronavirus scare hit the country’s tourism business hard, the SOP will clearly mention the dos and don’ts that the world mountaineers need to follow while taking part in any expedition in the country," Under Secretary Acharya was quoted in a statement issued by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). She said this while addressing an event organised by NMA in Kathmandu, adding, “The DoT is committed to manage the expeditions in Nepal’s mountains amid COVID-19 scare.”

On the occasion, Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizens Parbat Gurung lauded the role of mountain guides in sustainable development of country’s tourism sector. “The government is ready to address the genuine concerns of mountaineers, high altitude guides, workers and porters,” he said.

Likewise, NMA's President Santa Bir Lama said that the Association was committed to enhancing the skills of mountain workers. “Since its establishment, NMA has been empowering Nepali mountain workers to serve the country’s tourism and mountaineering sector,” he said, asking all not to create any negative perception towards the country’s only alpine club. Mountain workers are the backbone of adventure tourism and their concerns should be addressed, he said. “NMA will invest more in mountain workers offering them robust training and skill enhancement opportunities.”

NMA’s training coordinator Tulsi Gurung asked the government to ensure social security of the mountain workers. “Mountain workers should be recognised by the government and their facilities including insurance premium must be raised,” he said.

During the programme, NMA and Nepal Mountaineering Instructor Association (NMIA) also signed three different memoranda of understanding for different mountaineering and rescue training courses for the coming years. Rolwaling Summiteers Association has been entrusted to monitor climbing activities in different NMA peaks in Dolakha’s Rolwaling region.

Similarly, more than 30 individuals who completed different training courses recently have been awarded with certificates, according to NMA executive committee member, Shiva Bahadur Sapkota.

NMA in association with NMIA conducted the 28th Advance Mountaineering Course and High Mountain Rescue Training in Kathmandu and Langtang while Mountain Leader Course Component II & III were held in Kathmandu and Pikey Peak, Solukhumbu in February-March this year. “These trainings were equally tough and filled with excitement,” Lakpa Rangdu Sherpa, one of the chief instructors said.

More than 150 mountain workers and industry leaders took part in the event which was moderated by NMA’s Secretary Tika Ram Gurung.