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Monday, January 19, 2009

Tourism Budget Satisfactory, say entrepreneurs

Acclimatizing the new dawn of republican, the budget 2065/66 is welcomed by all with new aspirations of development and progress. Like other sectors, the tourism industry is also synchronized with different programs and policies addressing a better prospect for tomorrow. This year the budget has lined up different lucrative projects facilitating the industry like the new campaign “Nepal Tourism Year” is declared for 2011 where the basic objective of the campaign is to spread awareness and to do an effort to bring 1 million tourists per year. The ministry has allocated NRs 250 million for up-gradation and capacity expansion of 14 domestic airports and has also proposed Nrs. 397.8 million for tourism sector by substantially increasing the allocation compared to last Fiscal Year.

Similarly, the ministry has set aside NRs 200 million for the construction of International Airport at Nijgadh, Bara and Regional Airports at Pokhara and Bhairawa, which would be constructed on public-private partnership basis. It has proposed Rs. 950 million for the aviation sector.

Tek Chandra Pokheral, Chairman of Shangrila Tours and Travel said, “The new budget looks different but now it depends upon, the implementation. From the past a lot of new proposal and policies have been introduced by various parties but when it comes to implementation part they were weak. We just need to see how well the new government would carry their plans and policies.”

Regarding the new campaign to declare 2011 as Nepal Tourism Year, he said, “I am not excited by that. There is a normal growth of 27% in the number of arrivals where just by launching a new campaign gains burden. Reality is with the new campaign come responsibility which needs to be understood and worked on. Just looking back to the Visit Nepal 98 campaign, the amount of money and effort spend on it did not quantify the turn over. Though the conflict situation affected the productivity but still it did not meet the expectation, so it’s better to go with the normal growth rather than with such campaign.”

“ Moreover, if we could use the same money to facilitate the industry then it could give prominent results for e.g. if we could systematize traffic in tourists hub, increase the number of planes in the national carrier, systematize the Tribhuvan International airport (TIA) in terms of service and facilities then more prominent results can be achieved, ” added he.

“Currently we have Mafia’s ruling the trolleys in the TIA; recently the Japanese ambassador paid USD 20 for the use of the trolley which sounds embarrassing. At first we need to control such illegal acts then we can move on,” added he.

Like wise the budget also focuses towards the development of infrastructure, different plans and feasibility study of developing motorable roads at different parts of the country will be initiated. A feasibility study would be carried out and necessary process will be followed with a view of opening new trekking routes at Lamjunj-Annapurna, Lamjung-Manaslu, Gorkha-Manaslu areas and Manasrover focusing Khaptad.

Jyoti Adhakari, President of Trekking Agent’s Association of Nepal (TAAN) said, “This budget indeed is a different budget which addresses the needs and issues of the tourism industry. We just need to wait for some time and then evaluate its substantiality but still the early signs seem very prominent where the minister has already initiated to lease two Boeing for the national carrier Nepal Airline Corporation (NAC). Like such, we cannot just expect changes with in seconds or days, it takes time and a lot of resources. I believe the government has equal amount of opportunities as well as challenges. Moreover, we cannot expect more in a situation like this where we lack proper mechanism. So we just need to wait and watch. We need to support the government as for the first time tourism has been recognized as the economic development tool by the government.”

In order to develop tourism as a main component of poverty alleviation and a tool for revolutionary economic development, the budget focuses on development of infrastructure like road, communication etc which would increase the number of tourists’ flow enhancing income in rural and urban areas.

Ram Kaji Koney, President of Nepal Association of Travel and Tours Agents (NATTA) said, “The new budget is very impressive. The new campaign for the 2011 and the modalities for the improvement of the industry are very welcoming.”

“But it has missed certain things, such as Tourism Labor Law and Road Accident Law which should be formulated and brought in practice strictly. Today our tourism industry is in a threat because of untoward incidents like bandhs, vandalism, intimidations and extortions by various political and non political forces. This has to come in a complete halt. Likewise currently TIA lacks three T’s Toilet, Trolley and Taxi where the tourists are suffering due to improper management. The government should keep an eye on such activities at TIA where tourists are harassed.” added Koney.

By Shreedeep Rayamajhi


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