KATHMANDU, Aug 31: Trekking Agencies´ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has awarded top five trekking agencies in the country amid a program in the capital.
The association awarded Royal High Mountain Treks as the top agent for the fiscal year 2011/12 in terms of issuance of Trekkers´ Information Management System (TIMS) card on the occasion of its 34th annual general meeting.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Post Bahadur Bogati handed over the award to Shiva Dhakal, director of the agency. Royal High Mountain Treks has been operating tours and treks in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan an India for last 12 years.
Likewise, Thamserku Trekking, Himalayan Encounters, Swissa´s Mountain Way, Trekking and Exodus Treks came in the second, third, fourth and fifth position.
This is the first time that TAAN awarded agencies on the basis of TIMS cards issued by them. The government introduced TIMS cards around two years ago to ensure safety of trekkers and to control illegal operation of trekking business.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Bogati expressed commitment to address problems facing the tourism industry. “I know the industry has lot of problems. If we don´t address them, they will hamper our destination image,” Bogati said, adding that the ministry will address the problem one by one.
TAAN President Mahendra Singh Thapa said the association awarded the trekking agencies to encourage them and to discourage increasing illegal operation of trekking business. “Different NGOs and INGOs are operating large number of trekkers via Internet. They are doing business without contributing even a penny to the national exchequer,” said Thapa.
On the occasion, TAAN also unveiled maps of three new trekking trails explored by the association recently. One of the trails begins from Fungling of Taplejung and ends in Tumlingtar of Sankhuwasabha. The 18-day trek begins from Suketar in Taplejung and concludes at Tumlingtar airstrip in Sankhuwasabha after crossing Lumba Sumba Pass (5,177 meters). The other trek in the Lower Manaslu region offers magnificent view of mountains from Dhaulagiri in the west to Dorje Lakpa in the east.
Similarly, with the focus to promote Dolpo region, TAAN has recently completed exploration of the region and also launched the map for 22-day trail. The trail starts from Jumla and passes through Chharka, Phoksundo, Shey Gumba and different villages of Dolpa.
Thapa also asked the government to make our destinations cheaper. “It is very important to develop new routes and lift restrictions in controlled areas if we are to compete with Ladakh and Tibet,” he said.
According to Thapa, Ladakh drew around 3 million trekkers in 2011, while more than 10 million tourists visited Tibet during the year.