NTB, TAAN deal-inking to ease trek workers condition

 

Trekking route workers will get more facilities and 70 per cent of their demands are going to be fulfilled, thanks to the new agreement signed by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) here today.

NTB chief executive officer Prachanda Man Shrestha and first vice-president of TAAN Bachchu Narayan Shrestha signed the agreement — with a little modification — for Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS).

The agreement will become operational from April 1 with a charge of $10 per head for trekkers going through agencies and $20 with VAT per head for independent trekkers. Individual trekkers will be given green TIMS cards while trekkers going through companies will be given blue cards. Prachanda Man Shrestha said the concept of TIMS was employed on an experimental basis two years ago but now there is official agreement on it. According to him, the amount collected through TIMS will be used for the welfare of tourism sector workers, exploration of new trail destinations and as fund for the improvement and infrastructure development on trail routes.

TIMS will also control illegal trekking operations and ensure the safety and security of the trekkers in general areas through the mechanism of Prompt Information Service (PIS) as and when required. On January 1, 2008, TAAN made the provision of TIMS effective. TAAN and NTB will record trekkers’ details and issue TIMS cards to them. Due to the lack of a proper record system of trekkers, their exact whereabouts and information about trekking routes, rescuers and search missions used to face difficulties in tracing missing trekkers.

Meanwhile, TAAN general secretary Rajendra Bajagain said trekking is a seasonal business which has an advance booking system. “Only four months ago, we raised the wages by Rs 100 and we cannot increase them each month,” he said. Bajagain said TAAN is trying to bring an effective labour policy for the benefit of trekking route workers. He said a trekking guide charges Rs 700 per trek while a porter takes Rs 600. Jyoti Adhikari, Chairman at National Tourism Federation and immediate past president of TAAN, said the demands of the workers can be solved by mutual understanding. According to Adhikari, if Nepal Tourism Year 2011 is to be a success, the government should start working for it. He said that it has announced the event there is still no great excitement among the tourism entrepreneurs as preparations are not up to scratch.

Except for regular programmes, nothing new is being done for the development of infrastructure, identification of new destinations and fixing of new trekking routes.

Nepal is called a ‘trekkers’ paradise’, but it still lacks adequate infrastructure. Adhikari pointed out that good tourism prospects exist in the lowlands of the country.

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