All solo or free independent trekkers have to mandatorily hire a Trekking licensed guide or a porter before setting off to Nepal’s mountains.
Nepal Tourism Board, the country’s national tourism promotion body, which includes trekking and mountaineering associations decided to make a guide mandatory for solo or free independent trekkers (FITs) due to increasing safety concerns.
Particularly for those coming to Nepal to experience adventure and nature lovers who plan their own trips and prefer to travel alone, they should go through the registered tour operators from 1st April 2023. “The decision, however, will not be applicable to Nepali trekkers,”
Nepal’s private travel and tourism bodies, particularly the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, have been lobbying for a one-trekker, one-guide system, since 2012.
The apex body of the country’s trekking agencies had announced that solo trekkers would have to take along a guide from September 1, 2012, as per government orders. However, it was forced to backtrack after the Tourism Ministry said it had not issued any such directive.
In 2012, when the news circulated, the Nepal Tourism Board, including a large section of the travel and trade industry, received a flurry of inquiries.
Some independent travelers said people who appreciate nature the most are often those who cannot afford a guide. “Imposing this rule would take away the possibility for many hikers to experience Nepalese beautiful mountains. Furthermore, true adventurers will no longer be able to explore Nepal with their own freedom.”
Again, in 2014, the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal lobbied to implement the one-trekker, one-guide system. The government then assured to implement the system by the beginning of 2015. But due to the earthquake, the plan fell apart.
However, the government, this time, has taken kindly to the industry’s proposal. “The issue was under discussion for quite a long time to ensure the safety of the trekkers.”
The system has drawn mixed reactions with some complaining that it was a restriction on trekkers' freedom while some others welcomed it, saying it would make trekking safer.
“We have estimated that roughly 40,000 Nepalis will get new employment if the rule is enforced,” Due to a lack of employment opportunities at home, Nepal is expected to see nearly 1 million youths leaving the country for foreign employment this fiscal year ending mid-July.
The tourism industry is also struggling. Based on forward-looking scenarios for 2023, international tourist arrivals could reach 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year.
Free independent travelers are mostly well-experienced and very individualistic travelers, which is why they try to keep some degree of freedom by not booking everything on a trip in advance.
Since the issue of imposing mandatory guide rules was conceptualized, some tourists had complained about the restrictions on their freedom, while some others felt that the mandatory provision would make trekking safer.
Trekking and hiking in Nepal are the only way travelers will in inside the Himalayan Zone where trekkers will experience the Himalayan lifestyle of locals. A way from the modern city, breading fresh air, enjoying the beauty of Himalayan scenery, view of different landscapes, that provide a lifetime travel experience in the Himalayas of Nepal.
Source: The Kathmandu Post
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