KATHMANDU, March 21: Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has decided to suspend issuance of Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) cards for the trekkers for various trekking areas in Nepal putting trekking expeditions to a halt.
According to NTB, TIMS card is mandatory to ensure the safety and security of trekkers in the general trekking areas. Travel insurance is essential to acquire permission for trekking in Nepal and for obtaining the TIMS card. “With the decision into effect, there will be no movement of trekkers whatsoever,” said Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), “As a tourism based country, this will have a direct impact on the country's revenue.”
The NTB on Friday issuing a statement said that, all the TIMS card issuance counters will remain closed effective from 12:00 pm local time, Friday until further notice. “We are uncertain about how long the suspension will stretch, so the loss is expected to be huge this year,” Subedi told Republica adding that the suspension of trekking and mountaineering expeditions is expected to result into loss of at least Rs 15 billion.
The government on March 13 had halted the issuance of climbing permits for the expeditions that had already been issued or to be issued for the spring season, in accordance with the decision made by a high level committee a day before.
The committee for prevention and control of COVID-19 had decided to take necessary precautionary measures and preparations to prevent and control infection of COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, the Department of Tourism had decided to suspend the issuance of trekking permits to the designated restricted areas of Nepal till April 30 to foreigners who had arrived Nepal on March 15 and onwards. It had asked the trekking agencies in Nepal involved in operating trekking expeditions to follow the decision accordingly.
The TIMS card can be obtained from the Tourist Service Center, TAAN office located in Kathmandu and Pokhara and also from TAAN member trekking agencies. TIMS counter at NTB regional office in Pokhara also issues the card after the applicant submits fees, photocopy of the passport and photographs.
The fees for the TIMS card for group trekkers is Rs 1,000 and for free individual trekker (FIT), Rs 2,000 is charged per trekking route per entry. Trekkers from SAARC countries are charged Rs 300 for group trekkers, Rs 600 for FIT per person per entry. The amount collected from TIMS is used to maintain trekkers' database and in the rescue of trekkers.
According to the agreement signed between TAAN and NTB, of the earnings made from TIMS, 30% will go to the organizational account of TAAN, 30% to the organizational account of NTB, 30% to the joint account of NTB and TAAN and the remaining 10% to the welfare fund.
TIMS was jointly implemented by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and TAAN according to the direction of Nepal government from January 1, 2008.