Demand for the Revival of Trekking Permit in Nepal
Nepal’s geographical structure is extremely favorable for trekking. It holds a huge possibility to boost the country’s economy through the trekking industry. While Nepal is a very popular destination for cultural, wildlife and pilgrimage tours, it is equally a popular destination for trekking tours. Although it has a great potential, the government and the bona fide trekking agencies have not been able to gain much from it due to the number of trekking arrangements carried out illegally.
Therefore, the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN), had organized an interaction program and a press conference on 22 December 2003 to pressurize the government to re-introduce the trekking permit to control the illegal operation currently taking place here in our country.
Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN), the only association of the trekking agencies in Nepal, has been working for the upliftment of the trekking agencies to help flourish the trekkers in Nepal.
The trekking permit system was revoked a couple of years back by the government. TAAN felt that it has encouraged many illegal trekking operators. In the current situation, any hotel/lodges/restaurant staff, tour/trek guides or any individual as well as trekking agencies without having the license can operate trekking in various trekking routes in the country due to the lack of control.
The re-enforcement of the trekking permit would help in discouraging the illegal trekking operators and will also help bringing the trekking agencies in the VAT domain which is not happening now. Only 50 trekking agencies out of approx. 400 established in the country pay the VAT. Once the permit is re-introduced, the government can generate more revenue and earn more foreign currency. The permit system will help the trekking agencies get more opportunities and at the same time less chance for the trekkers get cheated or misled. It will also help locate and rescue a tourist if any disaster takes place during the trip. The permit systems will make trekking more systematic and safe.
TAAN had also formulated a 7-member committee under its former president Mr. J. B. Singh to deal with the issue and bring out the solution and suggest the government with solutions.
Further, TAAN had also requested the government to provide the authority to issue the trekking permit so that the issuance procedure can be made simple and easy. It used to get done by the department of immigration in the past and the agencies did not find their staff to be co-operative while issuing the trekking permits. The trekking agencies had appreciated the step that TAAN has taken.
By Sukendra Gurubacharya
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