Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Local Guides Now Required for Trekking in Nepal

It has been a turbulent year for tourism in Nepal. Following the tragic avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas on Mt. Everest, the country has been grappling with ways to make adventure travelers safer while visiting the Himalaya. Last week, the government agreed to make some changes to the way it operates in order to achieve its goals. One of the new rules will require that all foreign tourists trekking in the mountains will now be required to have a local guide with them at all times.

This shift in policy comes after Nepal's Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) has been meeting for the past two months with the expressed goal of getting the Nepali government to improve conditions not only for travelers, but for guides as well. The requirement for employing a local guide is just one of the demands that the committee was seeking. It has also gotten the government to create a welfare fund for porters, and launch an investigation into "financial irregularities" by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

Perhaps most importantly of all, it appears that the JTCC has also been able to oust Subash Niraula from his role as head of the NTB. There has been some indications of corruption on the board for awhile, but Niraula has been entrenched in that position for a number of years. Having him removed from the board may allow the country to move ahead with plans to improve tourism and making it more secure for visitors.

Unfortunately, Nepal has a history of paying lip service to a problem, without actually addressing it. In fact, this ins't the first time that the country has announced that local guides would be required for trekkers, although it appears that when hose rules were instituted in the past, they were eventually ignored. Similarly, there have been a lot of promises in regards to oversight on Everest as well, but it seems that when the avalanche hit this spring, those promised changes were not in place either, which caused issues with coordinating search and rescue operations, while bogging down communications with Kathmandu.

Nepal is a wonderful, wild country that has a lot to offer adventure travelers and mountaineers alike. I applaud any efforts to make things safer there, as I think it is a place that everyone should see. But the problems don't begin when travelers hit the trail. They start in the halls of government there, where corruption and greed have helped to delay, or even prevent, real change from happening. Hopefully this current round of changes will have a lasting impact, but you'll excuse me if I have a few doubts.

7 comments:

A-Bomb said...

I doubt this will be enforced. A little over two years ago there was the same news - that guides would be required for all trekking. It wasn't enforced then either when I went shortly after the announcment. having said that though, I got a guide when I did the Annapurna Circuit. It was more of a friend of a friend kind of thing, but he was a professional guide and truly added to the trip. So if you can find a good guide they'll definitely enhance the trip.

Kraig Becker said...

Agreed all around. I remember reporting this news the last time it was announced, but it was quickly forgotten about, and not enforced.

I also think hiring a guide is a good idea. It really does help enhance the experience.

Matt Twin said...

This is a start, But what about making outdoor gear in Nepal? a job in the warm and dry sounds pretty good to a lot of Nepalese I'm sure. not to mention 'made in Nepal' could come to carry a lot of weight in the outdoor gear world.

Kraig Becker said...

Considering all of the cheap knock-off gear that is there now, actually making good products would be a great idea.

Florin said...

I disagree that forcing someone to hire a guide for trekking is a good thing. Yes it can add to the experience for some type of trekkers/travelers but others like me enjoy more the DIY type of experience.

Enforcing such rules wont add to the experience of trekking in Nepal. In fact i think it will have a negative influence creating an artificial nead for guides and making room for allot of inexperienced ones.

I doubt that trekking without a guide has been an issue in the past.

Those asking about outdoor gear made in Nepal should check out Sherpa Adventure Gear, they have stores in Kathmandu and Pokhara (I think by far the best ones in Nepal) and in some other parts of the world
http://www.sherpaadventuregear.com/
http://www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk/

Kraig Becker said...

Florin: Agreed that many people can do a trek in Nepal on their own and have a great experience. But others get more out of the trek if they have a guide to help show them the ropes.

The last time the requirement for having a guide came up, it was the result of a couple of trekkers disappearing on the trail. One of which was later found murdered. Safety was indeed a concern.

Sherpa Gear is good stuff. Definitely like their products.

sanjib trek said...
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