HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) are preparing to review the Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) agreement.
According to NTB, TAAN is preparing a draft of new points to be included in the new TIMS agreement. The TIMS agreement was signed in 2009. “There are a number of drawbacks at present with TIMS and the system needs to be changed,” said chief executive officer of TAAN Gangasagar Pant.
He said that TIMS is a system developed by TAAN, but NTB is authorised for collecting tax through TIMS, however, the involvement of other players in TIMS distribution and collection has created unnecessary disturbances.
Representatives from TAAN, during a meeting with NTB, also discussed about the need to start an online TIMS to make the system more effective and informative.
According to Nepal Tourism Board, it has till date, collected Rs 90 million through TIMS card. TAAN has also developed a software to ensure the security of tourists and check illegal operations but since the NTB management is responsible for the system, it requires confirmation from the NTB board before it can be brought into operation.
“It has been several months since we developed the TIMS software with our own investment but we need permission from NTB for its operation,” said Pant. The software will make sure that tourists at different trekking routes are safe.
Under this software, a trekker has to fill a form with all the personal details and programmes throughout the stay and the information will be recorded in the TIMS software. If any trekker goes missing, the software can easily trace their whereabouts.
“Due to the lack of a proper record system, rescue and search missions for missing trekkers are difficult,” said Pant. He further said that NTB also has not been able to identify illegal operations. It only issues TIMS card for individual trekkers who are not allowed to take porters.
“More than 90 per cent of trekkers who go missing during treks are individual trekkers and we do not have any trekking information about them,” he said.
According to Pant, Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal issues a permit for group trekkers and the trekkers are well informed about their trekking routes. “Group trekkers have porter facility, they have a fix trail, and a fix time. We can easily locate them in case of an emergency,” he said.
An individual trekker has to pay $ 20, whereas for a group card one has to pay $ 10 per person. Of the total tourist arrivals, about 35 per cent arrive for trekking. During 2011–2012, the trekking business earned a total foreign currency of $ 50 million, states Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal.
However, trekking entrepreneurs have anticipated a sharp fall in trekking business in the new fiscal year due to the political unrest.