KATHMANDU, Jan 16: Foreign tourists planning to trek will soon be able to collect government permits to embark on the journey from the Internet.
The online service will be introduced once the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Nepal Tourism Board complete the process of automating Trekking Information Management System (TIMS), through which mandatory permits for most of the trekking routes are issued.
The TAAN is currently testing the new system. “We will formally launch it within a month´s time,” TAAN CEO Ganga Sagar Pant told Republica.
Once the automation is complete, trekkers can file required information and travel itinerary online, upon which applicants will get a unique code.
“Using the code, applicants can then collect the trekking permit from TAAN secretariat, NTB or at check posts located at entry points of trekking routes,” Pant said.
At present, trekkers, other than South Asians, traveling in groups need to pay a fee of US$10 per person, while Free Independent Travelers (FITs) are required to pay $20 per person to obtain trekking permit. South Asian tourists traveling in groups via trekking agencies, meanwhile, have to pay a fee of $3 per person, while South Asian FITs have to pay a fee of $6 per person to obtain trekking permits.
“Soon, we will also introduce online payment system for the convenience of trekkers,” Pant said.
TAAN officials said one of the reasons behind automating the trekking permit issuance system was to control gross misuse of such permits.
“We have come across incidents where trekking agencies had sold $10 permit for $20,” an official said, adding, automation of the system will control such illegal activities.
TAAN officials also said the online registration system would help them create a database of trekkers with personal information such as gender and nationality.
“These information can come handy during search operations if trekkers go missing,” they said.
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