32 responses

  1. the candy trail … | Michael Robert Powell
    August 9, 2012

    “It’s just the big people making more money.” – sounds like the world over ($21-32 trillion in recent tax avoidance by the world’s richest …). Anyway, I transgress.

    An excellent article about another sad state of 21st century tourism … like the Inca Trail and other mandatory tours these days.

    Ahh yes, the Golden Age of Travel; luckily for us we were both doing it before it becomes really-too-late to bother travelling anywhere, anymore … Alias, the world is changing too fast and this has me feeling very depressed today; or maybe it’s simply the gloomy post-typhoon weather outside my window today, here in China.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      It just makes me very sad. Nepal’s changed greatly since 2007 in terms of restrictions, and I imagine even more so for people that have visited before then.

      The usual “tourist prices” aside. I tried to ignore all these new and increased entry fees for literally everywhere these days. That was hard.

      But this ban on solo trekking is like digging a knife into what initially made this country so great.

  2. BB Travels
    August 9, 2012

    After reading your posts about trekking it had me interested in doing the same. Today less so. I’m not forced to take a guide to trek in the Swiss Alps why should Nepal be different? It is simply less appealing now.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      It’s just money making under the guise of something else BB. End result is that for solo trekking it might be time to look elsewhere, sadly.

  3. Simon
    August 9, 2012

    Excellent article, Dave.

    Apparently, more and more countries in Asia are applying this kind of model, increasingly treating independent tourists as ‘milking cows’. I just came back from Burma and I can’t count the number of ‘Tourist Fees’ I had to pay. Honestly, that was the most annoying thing and it somehow spoiled the travel experience.

    It’s not only a matter of rising costs in some countries for independent tourists. What deeply annoys me is not knowing in whose pockets this money goes (or knowing it too well…) If it was a was to really support local people in need, financing schools, small entrepreneurial projects etc. I wouldn’t really mind. But that’s not the case.

    That’s one of the reasons why to me, many Asian countries are getting less and less attractive. The world is big, and I won’t anyway live longer enough to see it all. Nepal is awesome (I was there in 1998) but there are many other places that are as beautiful if not even more. Nepal should think about it…

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      Thanks Simon.

      Yes I’ve noticed this too over the past few years. Independent tourists being charged more or having restrictions and “encouraged” to be a part of a group tour.

      Aside from the old “tourist” prices vs local prices restriction on things like trekking in Nepal really has me looking at other locations to trek. Not so much due to costs but due to the freedom of actually being able to trek alone and not have to hire a mandatory porter/guide.

      On top of that I really just think Nepal needs a kick in regards to these things. For a country that relies so much on tourism things like this and the blundering way they go about initializing things puts me off no end.

  4. Jen
    August 9, 2012

    Sir Dave,

    Do you remember Philippines? This year we went on vacation to Banaue. Everywhere we go they want to charge us something. Even 20 pesos to look at rice terrace from the look out. And for day trip trek they said we had to go with paid guide. So bad. Not just Nepal doing this.

    We would like to go Nepal but it’s just too expensive for us now. We have to wait for a company to offer package tour because we can’t go alone due to price.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      Hi Jen,

      Yes I remember The Philippines. I seem to remember a fee for entering Sagada town as well. Sorry to hear they seem to be adding charges to everything in Banaue. Could be worse, it could be Camiguin where everything now has a cover charge.

      If you can make it to Nepal, do try. It’s still a wonderful country to visit. This is hopefully only a hicup and they’ll realize they are cutting off a vital aspect of their tourism prospects.

  5. Anis
    August 9, 2012

    Great well-researched piece, Dave. Such a shame this is happening in Nepal which, like you said, once stood for exploration and independent travel. Seems like Nepal is following in Tibet’s footsteps- making life difficult for independent travellers.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      I think they’re looking at the Bhutuan model of tourism and high end tourists. And in doing so cutting off their legs despite their stomachs. Malaysia seems to have got the balance right, no reason Nepal can’t either!

      • trevor
        August 11, 2012

        hi Dave….Malaysia charges to go up Kinabalu…. i know… been up there 3 times PLUS 3 times on the climbathon…..people get ‘lost’ up there too…. u have to be pretty dumb to get lost up there, but in Taman Negara where its very easy to get lost, one can walk for free…. and long may it continue….
        glad i got to ABC last year…

  6. John Dwyer – Travel Author
    August 10, 2012

    Yet another great article Dave. While it’s a pity that you won’t be able to trek around the Himalayas solo, this new change isn’t so bad. I did the solo thing a few years back. Going solo means you don’t have a porter and so yet another local person doesn’t get employment. You also miss out on local knowledge of routes, stories, folklore than only a local guide can give you. You have to remember that the villages you pass through are poor are totally depend on tourist income. What would $10 a day get you in the West?
    John

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      Thanks John. Well to clarify: it won’t be those local businesses that will be getting the money if this goes through in September. It will be select TAAN guides/porters who will have to work through TAAN agencies who take a percentage of their salary that will be earning.

      Those villages are already suffering. This will just put an end to many day-to-day local’s who rely on independent tourists.

      The TIMS card should have enabled better tracking / protection for trekkers. Sadly as you can see from the link above it simply never worked well due to how it was implemented (financially).

  7. Doug
    August 10, 2012

    Nice article, but it’s important to note that this is all speculation at this point. TAAN is not a government agency, and has no authority to enforce these new “rules”. The only official rule at this point is that you cannot solo trek in Langtang – and this was their local government that made this ruling. So let’s just wait and see. TAAN is actively promoting this idea to the government for their own greedy purposes, but that doesn’t mean that the government will accept and enforce it.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      Hi Doug, thanks. Yes, I made references to this not being officially signed off on yet in the article. What’s worrying is that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been quoted in places in support of this. Nothing from Ministry for Tourism. But yes as you say this an all TAAN promotion. We can only hope the government does not approve of this in it’s current form.

  8. Linus
    August 10, 2012

    Bad idea if implemented. Like you say it’s not about cost, it’s about the choice of trekking alone if we want to. We’re adults, we make our own choices.

    I’m guessing this will end up harming the smaller lodges that don’t attract groups. For instance, the Jiri-Lukla stretch doesn’t seem to get a lot of traffic. None of the people I’ve met there have been part of a group. Many lodges on that route are on the ropes to begin with.

    I love Nepal, but if this is implemented I think I’ll go elsewhere.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 10, 2012

      Totally agree with you Linus. Those small independent guesthouses that make a little extra will vanish. I imagine there will be community ghost towns in some areas. One look at how some of these package tour operations work in the area and you can see the impact on those not “selected” for accommodation etc.

      I’m really hoping someone from the Nepalese government will see this for what it is and block this idea.

  9. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    August 12, 2012

    Interesting that the officials appear to be downplaying the extra cost by saying $10 a day when, as you’ve pointed out, the real costs are higher. I think budget/independent travelers pose challenges for tourism officials because we spend much less money and aren’t necessarily using licensed guides or tour operators that pay fees or have contracts with the government. (Although we are benefiting the local economies by staying in family-owned guest houses and shopping at local markets, etc). It would be nice if they were honest about the reasons for this new policy, but I doubt they would admit their was a financial incentive rather than a safety issue.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 12, 2012

      Very valid points Leslie. I few years ago there was an article going around about how long term budget travelers actually spend more than short term holiday makers when you take costs into consideration.

      Times are changing and with the advent of “data mining” tourism board simply have more control over package tours than budget independents.

      One thing for sure, in either case this type of fudging of costs speaks volumes about where the real bottom dollar lies!

    • Paul (To Asia)
      August 13, 2012

      Leslie I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, they are more worried about money than safety, to them its the quality of the visitors that come that counts and by quality they of course mean the amount of money spent per person or made per group tour, singles trekkers just don’t spend the same amount as group tours. Its the same in Thailand to a certain extent, the TAT (Thailand Tourism Association) is forever harking on about upping the quality of tourists that come to visit.

  10. Wade | VagabondJourney.com
    August 16, 2012

    Yes, this is what the world travel game is becoming. Independent travel is no longer a grass roots industry. The big boys have realized that they can game the system and make $$$. High income tourism or bust. It’s real sad to watch it all change. I guess we need to start mapping out new frontiers or go wallow in some hole somewhere.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 17, 2012

      Strange how low budget/long-term travelers are the ones to mark out new places to travel. Then 10-20 years later get kicked out in favor of short term high income tourists.

      I’m guessing this will always be the way as it’s easier to measure and quantify package tourists etc.

  11. Jason
    August 17, 2012

    I read this article Dave the day it popped up on my reader. Life has been out of control at my end of late but I wanted to make sure I came back to comment on this one.

    A microsecond after I read the title to the post, my heart sank. After seeing the influx of mass tourism curb the numbers on Peru’s Inca Trail, of which I trekked many years ago (with only 5 other people seen in 4 days due to the shinning path running riot at the time).

    I could not believe what I was reading. ‘No not Nepal!’ , but yes it seems all to true. Agreeing with most of the comments above it seems like its all about funnelling the dollars to the government and the big boys in town.

    After completing various trekk’s and a small climb in Nepal. All of which were done with either Liza (my partner) or a small group of friends. It saddens me that others will not have that same sense of adventure that I had many years ago.

    Waltzing off from Gokyo village and heading into the opening arms of Cho Oyo and other surrounding 7000+ meter peaks with nothing more than a tent a stove and an adventurous spirit, is something that many adventurous people will now not be able to afford.

    Of course you will be able to go with your guide, but I feel over time the numbers on these now enforced guided tours will increase along with the cost.

    A sad day…….

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 17, 2012

      Indeed Jason, it’s very sad news. Honestly speaking it’s so sad that I have to ignore it as much as possible otherwise it really gets to me.

      Either that or I’m hoping Pakistan will open up it’s tourist borders a little more as the Northern region would seem like the next logical area for independent trekking etc.

  12. linarclud38
    August 21, 2012

    As a family member of Zisimos Souflas who has gone missing whilst visiting Nepal, last seen at the Hotel Tibet in Namche Bazaar, and desperate for news of him. We are asking for help from all those who may have been travelling from Jiri to NAmche Bazaar and then onto Everest BAse camp between april 14th onwards if they met him on their journey. OUr anxiety has been increased by our awareness of a number of other missing tourists and tragedies of reported attacks on tourists. There are at least 12 other missing foreign tourist cases – AUBREY SACCO FROM COLORADO USA, Gareth Koch, 24, vanished in 2004 while Julian Wynne, 33, Alex Ratnasothy, 24, Lena Sessions, 23, an American, was hiking alone in Langtang in December 2012 when a knife-wielding man threatened to rape and kill her but she escaped Belgian hiker Debbie Mavea, 23, was found murdered recently (MAy 2012)and others. These horrific events are seen by the Nepali Government as bad publicity for their beautifl country and likely to have a damaging impact on tourism if they are not seen to try and do something.My plea is not to be cynical about their aims but to try and understand .Times and the world have changed and it is sadly no different in Nepal.I don’t want other families to feel like we do , with so many unanswered questions and the deep sense of sadness .

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 22, 2012

      Hello,

      It’s important to address any tragedy in the world. And yes Nepal is no different in that regard.

      However an all out ban on solo trekking defies the very purpose of solo trekking. It will only start a snowball effect whereby soon tourists will not be allowed out at night alone on the streets of Kathmandu. The number of tourist related incidents on the streets of Nepal in regards to drug/alcohol/crime usage is a separate issue. But they are there.

      TAAN is not a government body. They are an association of trekking agencies with their own agenda.

      As I’m updating this post the Nepalese government have rejected the proposal from TAAN for a ban on solo trekking at this time.

  13. Mark Horrell
    August 21, 2012

    You’ll be pleased to know it looks like common sense will prevail on this one. According to TAAN the Nepal government has announced it will be putting on hold the decision to ban solo trekking:
    http://www.taan.org.np/newsdetail/govt-puts-decision-to-ban-solo-trekking-on-hold

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 22, 2012

      More than pleased, I feel relieved. Thanks for that update Mark.

  14. Jo
    November 25, 2012

    Does anyone know if these new rules are now definitely applied? And any confirmed costs?

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