THE Nepal Tourism Board will issue free mobile SIM cards along with permits to solo trekkers as a stronger safety precaution beginning March 2015.
First proposed in 1Q2014, the initiative was formally announced last week. SIM cards will be issued to trekkers visiting during the peak climbing season between March and early June each year.
About 14 per cent of 800,000 tourists a year visit Nepal for mountain climbing, with solo trekkers making up 30,000 of this number.
Said Subhash Niraula, CEO of the NTO: “It is easy for us to locate individuals if they are lost by tracking the SIM card. If in distress, they can call us on some pre-loaded numbers for rescue or help.”
Bijay Amatya, COO of Kora Tours Kathmandu, welcomed the move, saying: “Safety is a major concern that we as host nation must address when we welcome guests. This connectivity will assuage fears of availability of help options in emergencies. I believe that adventure travel will rise by at least 10 per cent because of this.”