HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Despite the continuous lobbying by hotel entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation has decided that no more tourists will be allowed to stay in Chitwan National Park (CNP).
“We have already given an exit plan to the hotels and resorts within Chitwan National Park,” said spokesperson at the ministry Ram Prasad Lamsal. “There is no alternative, and now the hotels and resorts should stop taking bookings and reservations as no tourist will be allowed to visit the hotels and resorts within the national park,” said Lamsal.
“Their lease agreement expired in mid-July and they have to vacate the area by mid-October 2012,” he said. However, the owners of the hotels and resorts within CNP are still hopeful of receiving an alternative package from the government.
“The government must identify an alternative so that our investments do not go in vain,” said executive chairman of Machan Wildlife Camp Prakash Shrestha who is also the former president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN). According to Shrestha, the government should not have allowed the operation of hotels and resorts within CNP since the initial days but now it is difficult for them to find an alternative.
“One needs at least two years to build a hotel and a huge investment to start one,” he said. The government should show a reasonable cause. It should take the initiative and start a scientific study of the Chitwan National Park to develop a modality, expressed HAN.
“If government can prove we are responsible for any environmental degradation, we will gladly exit from the national park,” he said.
The hotels and resorts have already stopped bookings and reservations for the tourist season that starts from October till May. “We are stranded, there is no support from either Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation or from Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation,” said Shrestha.
CNP alone attracts 30 per cent of the total tourist arrivals. Hotels and resorts within the national park pay an annual revenue of around Rs 200 million. They have directly created employment for around 3,000 people and indirectly for more than 100,000.
Natural Resources Committee under parliament had recommended government to permanently close hotels and resorts inside CNP to protect wildlife and save the environment.