Things are set to get even better for students here. With the introduction of the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), held by over 4.5 million in 120 countries, Nepali students will now be able to extend discounts received to participating restaurants, clothing outlets, and bookstores.
Zen Nepal Tours and Travels, which introduced ISIC to Nepal, is upbeat about its prospects. "We thought it was a great opportunity to help students access more services," says Mitali Ghosh, manager of Zen Nepal. The card is issued only to full-time students, aged above 12, at a cost of US$22. It is valid for a year and can be reissued at any ISIC provider around the world. In operation since January, Zen Nepal has already issued 125 ISICs.
A majority of the clients that visit Zen Nepal's office for the new card are those who have been accepted into foreign universities. "Most issue this card for the discounts it provides on airfares," explains Ghosh. "But there are even more benefits once they arrive at their destination." Worldwide, 41,000 merchants accept ISIC.
Bhumi Puri, who has been marketing the ISIC card in Nepal, asserts that the card is not just for those about to leave the country. Zen Nepal has involved 150 local merchants in the ISIC discount program, and expects the number to reach 200 by the end of the month. "Students living here can avail themselves of 7-25 per cent discounts at participating stores," says Puri. "And we have carefully selected businesses that are appropriate for students."
It's a win-win situation for the businesses too because it opens them to a pool of Nepalis who otherwise might not be able to afford their products as well as foreign students with ISIC cards who may visit Nepal.
For the same price, non-students can apply for a youth card for similar benefits, and teachers can also sign up for a special International Teacher Identity Card.