Stakeholders have underlined the need to enhance safety measures for effective development and promotion of mountain tourism. Speaking at a seminar on Mountain Tourism Safety organized by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) in Kathmandu, they said destinations should now assure visitors on safety as it has become a crucial issue. Presenting his working paper, Dave Bamford, an adventure tourism consultant based in New Zealand, suggested that Nepal focus on dissemination of weather forecast, production of trained manpower, and establishment of a dedicated body to coordinate search and rescue to make tourism activities in mountain areas safe. “Nepal needs to give alpine training to its trekking and mountaineering guides. Similarly, it should focus on effective dissemination of information, relay authentic weather updates to its guides, and form a rescue cell if it doesn’t want the tragedy of October 2014 to repeat,” he added.
At the workshop, various experts made presentation on different issues related to mountain tourism safety. Dr Buddha Basnyat made a presentation on Medical Safety, Col Madan KC on Mountain Rescue, Mahabir Pun on Communications System, Dr Rishi Sharma and Krishna Bhakta Manandhar on Weather Forecast, and Tulsi Prasad Gautam, director general of Department of Tourism (DoT) on Policy on Mountain Tourism. Commenting on the presentations, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala said joint efforts of key stakeholders – the government, TAAN, NMA, and Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) – would be needed to enhance safety in mountain tourism. “TAAN will leave no stone to make mountain tourism safe. We have been playing our role effectively, and will continue to do that in future as well,” he said. Similarly, TAAN Executive Committee Member Vidya Hirachan suggested to the government to ease regulations related to rescue. “I was actively involved in rescue during the Annapurna blizzards of October 2014. My experience says we lack coordination not the resources,” she added. Earlier, inaugurating the workshop, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) said the government will spare no effort to make tourism activities in mountain areas safe. “We will work jointly with the concerned stakeholders on this issue,” he added. Minister Sherpa also said that the government would conduct safety audits of tourism destinations to assure potential tourists on safety. Similarly, NMA President Ang Tshering Sherpa said he was hopeful that workshop would give inputs to the government for drafting laws and regulations for mountain tourism accordingly. The seminar was supported by UK AID, SAMARTH-NMDP and New Zealand High Commission in Nepal.