March 03, 2023: Starting April 1, 2023, foreign tourists in Nepal will no longer be allowed to go trekking without a guide. This decision was announced by Maniraj Lamichhane, Director of the Nepal Tourism Board, as a measure to improve the safety of trekkers in the country.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal received 46,142 “Free Individual Trekkers (FIT)” in 2019, who were permitted to travel alone by obtaining a Tourist Information Management System (TIMS) card from the Nepal Tourism Board or authorized agencies. However, in 2022, only 19,425 FITs were recorded due to the pandemic.
Lamichhane stated that the decision to require guides for all foreign trekkers was made in response to safety concerns, particularly for situations requiring rescue operations. He also noted that the decision could potentially create job opportunities in Nepal’s tourism industry.
Furthermore, FITs will no longer be issued TIMS cards, and tourists will be required to book their trek through a registered trekking company and hire a guide for the duration of their trek.
As a result of the closure of the Tourist Information Management System (TIMS) card for Free Individual Trekkers (FIT), the Nepal Tourism Board will now distribute the same type of TIMS card to all tourists. Previously, tourists going on a group tour paid Rs 1,000 per person for the card, while those going on a solo tour received a team card by paying Rs 2,000 per person. However, the price of the TIMS card for all tourists has now been increased to Rs 2,000 per person.
Director Lamichhane explained that the decision to raise the price of the TIMS card was made with the consent of the Ministry of Tourism and approval from the Ministry of Finance. The increase was implemented to ensure the safety of tourists who embark on risky journeys to Nepal’s adventure destinations and to maintain the quality of services provided.
Citizens of SAARC countries will now pay Rs 1,000 for the TIMS card, which was previously priced at Rs 300. While this decision may make traveling to Nepal more expensive for tourists, Director Lamichhane emphasized that the decision was made after considering suggestions from tourism industry professionals to keep the fee reasonable for safe travel.