‘Address tourism troubles’

Kathmandu, September 1 :

Tourism entrepreneurs, government officials and Maoist leaders presented their views on how to rescue the tourism industry by introducing a relief package and policy reforms.

As per the demand of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), the government is brining out a relief package to rescue the hotel industry, a major component of the tourism economy.

Madhav Prasad Ghimire, secretary at the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation expressed his commitment and determination to rescue the tourism industry that holds tremendous potential.

Ghimire stated that the government’s job is not to carry out tourism business. It is the private sector that has to do business. What is important is that the government should only create a conducive environment with reformed policies in place, said Ghimire.

He said this, while speaking at the half-yearly general body meeting of HAN held today on the theme ‘Prioritise Tourism for Economic Revival’.

As tourism sector creates ‘multiplier effects’ on all sectors of economy, it has to be boosted with specific strategies, said Ghimire.

He suggested the private sector to continue tourism events on a regular basis, balanced regional development, exploring new avenues and develop a package to boost the sector further with a new vigour.

Prakash Shrestha, president of HAN, said that entrepreneurs have invested over Rs 150 billion in hotel sector alone which is one of the largest investment. Nepali hotel sector can accommodate over one million tourist a year, which has remained unused so far, said Shrestha.

He asked the government to simplify visa regulations to help tourists increase their stay in Nepal, give electricity tariff facilities like other industries, build image through promotional activities and put effective policy in place. Shrestha suggested the government to form a task force to study those countries where tourism has been given a top priority.

Dev Gurung, leader of Nepal Communist Party (CPN-Maoist), attributed the fall in tourism business to wrong policies adopted by previous governments. He said that due to the state’s policy and a few people misusing state’s resources, tourism sector is in trouble.

He was of the view that the state’s resources be productively used. He said that if we adopt proper policies and use our resources, Nepal can be turned into Switzerland.

Former president of HAN, Narendra Bajracharya protested and stressed that let Nepal remain Nepal not become a Singapore or Switzerland.

Prasiddha Pandey, managing director of Shangri-La Hotel, expressed the view that tourism has been crucial in boosting industries such as handicrafts, food products, animal husbandries and manual laborers.