From April 01, 2023, all trekkers will have to be accompanied by a porter and/or a guide to trek in Nepal. While this was already required in areas such as Kanchenjunga, Manaslu, Mustang etc (areas which currently require a trekking permit), this rule will now extend to even the popular trekking routes such as Everest, Annapurna and Langtang. This rule will be enforced by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) along with support from the Nepal Government and the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN). Their rationale is that this new rule will ensure safety of trekkers and increase employment in Nepal. However, this to us seems restrictive; adventure-minded hikers will always want to trek alone. And such hikers understand that being outdoors comes with risk. Also, was a proper cost-benefit analysis undertaken: cost of lost business for lodge owners in the various trekking areas with backpackers choosing to go to other destinations versus benefit in wages to guides and porters.
This decision is fraught with controversy with arguments for either side. While the objective of this rule, as claimed by NTB, is the safety of trekkers and staff, this rule will also increase revenue for NTB. All trekkers will be required to purchase the Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card which will cost Nepali Rupees 2,000. Some tourism entrepreneurs and experts see this as an added tax on trekkers. Previously TIMS was not required for areas such as Kanchenjunga, Upper Mustang and Manaslu that require a trekking permit. NTB also claims that this will ensure protection for trekking staff. However, NTB and TAAN are yet to pay many trekking agencies cost incurred on previous helicopter evacuations and medical expenses for trekking staff. The local Government in the Khumbu region (Upper Everest region) has lashed back at this decision and will not require trekkers to purchase the TIMS card or trek with a guide and/or a porter.
See link of this alert from the US Embassy in Nepal.