Rescue, medical insurances to be slashed to boost mountain tourism

Major changes in offing

  • Rescue and health insurances on all peaks below 6,500m to be slashed
  • Climbing permits of spring 2015 to be extended for up to two years
  • Tourism Act and mountaineering regulations to be amended to regulate Mt Everest climbers

 Kathmandu, December 5

Mountaineers planning to different mountains below the height of 6,500 metres in the upcoming climbing seasons may have to spend a less than in the past as the government is all set to reduce insurance costs with the aim of reviving the country’s adventure tourism businesses.

According to Director General at the Department of Tourism Govinda Bahadur Karki, DoT forwarded its proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation yesterday recommending huge reduction in the rescue and health insurance costs.

The DoT’s proposal has asked for a 60 per cent reduction in the existing rescue insurance amount of US$ 10,000 that an expedition team has to pay before attempting to summit the country’s 188 peaks below 6,500 metres, which are open for climbing.

The DoT proposal has recommended US$ 3,000 as medical insurance amount for mountain guides and porters reducing the existing cost by 25 per cent. “Insurance amount of US$ 2,000 has also been recommended for base camp workers of all climbing peaks below 6,500 metres, slashing the existing amount by US$ 1,000.”

The department has also proposed that the teams will voluntarily attend officials’ briefing, but they should be compulsorily present during debriefing at DoT. Earlier, briefing and debriefing were compulsory for all expedition teams.

“DoT has also decided to slash insurance costs for high altitude and base camp workers to attract more climbers in the upcoming season as the country’s tourism sector has been severely hurt due to the devastating earthquake and the ongoing Tarai unrest,” Karki told this daily. DoT decided to forward its proposal after holding consultations with stakeholders, said Karki, who also hoped that the proposal would be endorsed by a minister-level decision at the earliest.

According to him, MoCTA has also been reviewing DoT’s proposal, which seeks at least two-year extension for climbing permits issued last spring as the mountaineers had abandoned their bids after earthquake struck nation killing more than 9,000 people in April and May.

More than 100 teams, including 42 Mt Everest expeditions, which abandoned their attempt last spring will benefit once the Cabinet approves the DoT proposal for extending permit, he added.

The Karki-led taskforce has already started work on necessary changes to the existing Tourism Act and mountaineering Rules and Regulations. “The taskforce is also mulling amendment of the Act and Rules to regulate Mt Everest climbers by introducing some specific control measures in the near future,” he said, adding that the government was committed to developing the world’s highest peak as the mountain of real mountaineers.