The number of Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS) cards issued by Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) fell by a marginal 7.61 per cent to 71,300 in 2015 — a tumultuous year for tourism, which was affected by the devastating April and May earthquakes, Tarai unrest and blockade along the Nepal-India border points. "The figure is encouraging, given the drastic fall in number of tourists visiting the country after the mega earthquake of April 25 and impacts of fuel shortage due to Tarai unrest and border blockade since September," according to TAAN. Last year, TAAN had distributed TIMS cards to 77,174 trekkers. TAAN distributes TIMS cards to group trekkers, while Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) issues TIMS cards to free individual trekkers. The data maintained by TAAN shows that the number of trekkers was growing strongly until March. Compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, the number of trekkers fell by 14.36 per cent to 11,794 in April, when the destructive earthquake shook the nation. The earthquake had an immediate impact on tourist arrivals, which subsequently affected arrival of trekkers. The number of trekkers fell by 81.26 per cent to 590 in May and by 75.88 per cent to 143 in June, as against the figures of 2014. Though the number grew significantly in July and August, it again fell by 69.42 per cent to 3,328 in September and by 30 per cent to 13,205 in October, shows the TAAN data. However, the number of TIMS cards issued by TAAN increased by 101 per cent in November to 7,555, but fell by 20.47 per cent to 3,473 in December. Annapurna region was the top choice among trekkers last year, with 63.4 per cent of the total trekkers visiting the region in 2015. Second in the list was Everest region, which hosted 27.74 per cent of trekkers, followed by Langtang region, which hosted 7.84 per cent of the trekkers. Commenting on the figures, TAAN President Chandra Prasad Rijal termed the figures encouraging for the tourism industry. "The number of trekkers has fallen by a smaller margin even though the year saw series of negative events. This shows that tourism is already on the path of recovery," he said. "Looking at the figures, there is every reason to be hopeful about better tourism prospects in 2016."
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