-By Akash Shrestha
This article was originally published in Econity.
This Autumn onwards, trekkers will have to compulsorily hire a guide or a porter. This is expected to ensure ‘safety of tourists,’ and the government is serious about the enforcement of this new policy.
How many people have died doing the Himalayan trail already? They still come, and it is not because Nepal has shown promise in providing safety/security to the trekkers. It is because they take it as a challenge to conquer the Himalayas despite all challenges that nature has in store for them. To them, it is adventure.
The recent earthquake has made one big statement; loud and clear! Nepal does not have a very good security or evacuation system in place, not just for tourists, but for everybody. So by making it compulsory for a trekker to be accompanied by a porter and a guide, are we making the Himalayas safer for the tourists, or endangering the lives of two more Nepalese?
Two more things about the decision! It expects to: a) create more jobs, and b) increase tourist spending.
If we were really concerned about creating jobs, why not just start a mega-project on building roads in the Himalayas; maybe we can even put it under national priority, and we know this project is going to last forever, almost. The people in the Himalayas have jobs suddenly. The point is, most trekkers already hire porters. By regulating it, we are only making it difficult to be a trekker in Nepal. We make them feel like they are having their adventure under somebody else’s terms. Does anyone smell ‘baptists and bootleggers’ here?
On increasing tourist spending, I’m afraid we might be overestimating ourselves. Afterall, Nepal is not the only trekking destination in the world, You make it difficult for the people to enjoy Nepal, they will go somewhere else. This little post by a full-time traveler, who prefers the Himalayas to anything else, says a lot about people’s preferences and the implication of this decision on banning trekking without guide or porter.
Akash Shrestha is Senior Research Officer at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.