Monsoon law 1: ban independent trekking

Has the monsoon arrived in Nepal? Thankfully those lawmakers don’t have a constitution to write.

The Nepali tourism board has once again demonstrated how inept it is by ruling that a $10 per day charge for trekking is “a very nominal amount”.

Need we remind our learned friends that Nepal is not Bhutan? A $10 fee sounds reasonable for a three-day trek, but Sagarmatha and Annapurna are three-week treks. According to my non-professional and untested estimates, that’s $210 alone (not including the permits, food, lodging, guides and bag-carriers.)

Is it ever a good idea to react to murder with law? Better to ensure the perpetrator is found and some learning takes place.

Nepal to ban independent trekking

Trekkers in the Nepalese Himalayas are now required to use a government-registered guide after a series of assaults in the region. Belgian hiker Debbie Maveau was found decapitated in June beneath a hiking trail on the Tibetan border.

Travellers wishing to trek in the Nepalese Himalayas will be required to use an official guide following a series of assaults.

Government officials in Nepal have announced that, from September, it will be compulsory for all tourists who want to trek in the country, to be accompanied by at least one government registered porter or guide.

Trekkers travelling in groups are already required to do so, but previously solo adventurers were permitted to explore the mountains alone. The new rule is likely to come into force next month.

The decision was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs and has been welcomed by the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), which says it will help to ensure the safety of tourists and the control of illegal trekking businesses.

It follows the death of 23-year-old Belgian Debbie Maveau, whose decapitated body was found on June 14 beneath a hiking trail in the Langtang National Park, near the Tibetan border. This incident followed a number of other assaults and disappearances including that of an American, Aubrey Sacco, who went missing in 2010.

Mohan Lamsal, general secretary of TAAN has said, “The decision will help promote Nepal as a safe destination for tourists at a time when international media are questioning the safety of foreigners in Nepal.”

The new policy will involve an additional fee of $10 per day for Free Individual Trekkers (FIT), which Anjan Thapa, treasurer of TAAN has called, “a very nominal amount which won’t effect tourist arrivals.”

According to statistics collated by Tribhuvan International Airport, tourist arrivals in Nepal by air increased by 9.2 percent last month, compared with July 2011. Total arrivals in the first seven months of 2012 increased by 18.5 percent.

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