A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following a deadly snowstorm in Nepal that killed 40 people – including four Israelis – the government there is considering stricter safety guidelines for tourists who come to trek through its mountains.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains.
Income from tourism – including permit fees for hikers, who made up more than 12 percent of its 800,000 tourists in 2013 – accounts for 4% of its economy.
Aside from the four Israeli fatalities, seven Israelis have been flown home so far to receive further treatment, most of them suffering from frostbite to their extremities.
Lt. Tamar Ariel, 24, from Kibbutz Masuot Yitzhak was laid to rest at the kibbutz’s cemetery on Tuesday, and 23-year-old Agam Luria from Kibbutz Yifat was buried the same afternoon.
The third Israeli fatality of the snowstorm was Nadav Shoham, 30, from Hoshaya. Michal Cherkasky, 36, of Givatayim was confirmed on Monday as the fourth.
Nepalese Tourism Minister Dipak Amatya said he was determined to overhaul adventure sports tourism in his country and ensure it never again faced a similar tragedy.
“There is no point blaming the hostile weather for the disaster,” he told Reuters. “I blame our entire mechanism, because it is our responsibility to protect tourists and Nepali citizens.”
Amatya’s ministry is working on a plan to build more than 200 shelters on all the hiking routes in Nepal, to ensure every tourist finds a shelter within a distance of 3 km.
Another senior official in the Nepalese Tourism Ministry said that among the new suggested guidelines was that trekkers on long trips would be required to hire qualified local guides, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday. The hikers would also be required to use a satellite-based locating device.
The official said that the government intended to institute the new guidelines in advance of the upcoming spring tourist season. He also said the authorities would improve their weather forecasting abilities and would transfer the forecasting data to remote points on the hiking circuits.Ben Hartman and Reuters contributed to this report.