September 04 , 2016
A delegation of Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), led by its President Chandra Prasad Rijal, on Sunday paid a courtesy call on newly appointed Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jeevan Bahadur Shahi at the latter's office in Singhadurbar.
Rijal congratulated Minister Shahi on assuming the office of the tourism ministry by offering him bouquet, garland and khadas. He also handed over a letter of felicitation, wishing for his successful tenure.
TAAN has requested Minister Shahi to take policy decisions on number of issues related to trekking peak permit fee, garbage fee, Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS), liaison officer, age limit of climbers, restricted areas, no trekking without guide or porter and one-door system for tourism-related services among others.
TAAN has urged the government to fix a flat permit fee of US$ 75 per person for all seasons for peaks below 6,500 meters. Stating that the existing system of refundable garbage fee was impractical, TAAN has suggested introducing non-refundable garbage fee of US$ 100 per climber for Everest, $75 per climbers for other peaks above 8,000 meters, $50 per climber for peaks between 6,501 to 7999 meters, and $20 per climber for peaks below 6,500 meters.
Similarly, TAAN has requested Minister Shahi to make TIMS mandatory for mountaineering expeditions and make necessary policy direction so that expedition operators so not have to buy insurance policies for workers as the liability would be covered by TIMS fund itself. TAAN has also requested the ministry to depute one liaison office for one mountain instead of sending liaison officers with every expedition.
To control unhealthy competition among Everest summiteers, TAAN has urged the government to enforce age limit of 16-75 years and bar blind and climbers with physical disabilities from climbing the tallest peak on earth. Similarly, it has suggested to the government to issue Everest climbing permits only to climbers who have climbed at least one mountain above 6,000 meters.
TAAN has also requested the government to review permit fee of Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa and lift restrictions altogether from other restricted areas like Nar-Phu in Manang, Upper Manaslu in Gorkha, Lower Dolpa, Simikot and Limi in Humla, Mugu, Lamabagar of Dolakha, and Taplejung. It has also requested Minister Shahi for making necessary policy intervention so that even a single trekker can receive restricted area permit.
At present, restricted area permit is issued to groups with a minimum of two participants.
Stating that the incidents of trekkers going missing are on the rise, TAAN urged Minister Shahi to introduce 'no trekking without guide or porter' system. TAAN also drew the attention of Minister Shahi to bring all tourism-related services under one roof.
Responding to the delegation, Minister Shahi said change is inevitable in the tourism ministry. "I won't say I will change it during my tenure, but I will definitely make efforts for that," he added. Stating that most of the demands raised by TAAN were contextual, he said he would study and address them gradually. "I haven't seen the logic behind imposing travel restrictions in some areas. It is not good to deprive people there of the benefits of tourism," he said, adding, I will talk with the Home Ministry to lift or ease such restrictions.
At the program, General Secretary Karna Bahadur Lama gave a short introduction about TAAN, while Treasurer Lila Baldab Dahal 'Kaka' drew the attention of the ministry toward golden gate entry pass and a recent government decision that bars private vehicles from carrying tourists.
TAAN Senior Vice President Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, General Secretary Karna Bahadur Lama, Secretary Mukti Pandey, Treasurer Lila Baldab Dahal 'Kaka' and Executive Members Sarita Lama, Ngawa Ngima Sherpa, Devi Pandey, Tara Nath Lamichhane 'Dinesh', Pema Sherpa 'Sangam' and Surya Bahadur Ghimire were also in the delegation.
TAAN CEO Tek Bahadur Mahat and Secretariat staffers Bishnu Bhattarai and Prakash Khadka were also present in the program.