Kathmandu, December 29
The government is all set to amend the Travel and Trekking Guideline, which would include the provision of making registration of tourism organisations like travel agencies, trekking agencies, trekking guides and tourist guides at the Department of Tourism (DoT) mandatory.
Such tourism organisations are currently registered either at DoT, Department of Industry (DoI) or the Office of Company Registrar (OCR).
DoT has prepared a final draft of the amended Travel and Trekking Guideline which seeks registration of such tourism organisations at DoT even if they have been registered with any other government body. DoT is expected to soon send the amended draft to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) to present it at the Cabinet for approval.
“We have finalised the amended draft and will soon forward it to MoCTCA,” JayanarayanAcharya, director general of DoT, said.
DoT officials said that the Travel and Trekking Guideline is being amended after some tourism organisations were reported to be operating without being registered at any government office.
“During the course of monitoring, we found that at least 10 per cent of the travel agencies, trekking agencies, trekking guides and tourist guides are not registered with DoT. In fact, some are not registered with any government body,” said DurgaDattaDhakal, spokesperson for DoT. “When the new guideline comes into effect, all such firms and individuals will have to be registered at DoT as they are related to tourism industry.”
According to Dhakal, some travel agencies, trekking agencies, trekking guides and tourist guides who have been registered at other government agencies were also found to be operating their business without renewing their licence. Some of these organisations and individuals are also not paying tourism-related government taxes despite being a part of the country’s tourism industry.
As per DoT’s statistics, 2,982 travel agencies, 2,201 trekking agencies, 12,825 trekking guides and 3,750 tourist guides have registered themselves at DoT.
The amendment draft of the guideline also has a provision to fine tourism organisations that do not renew their licence on time. Any travel agency, trekking agency, trekking guide or tourist guide who go for licence renewal within six months of the expiry date will have to pay a fine of up to Rs 10,000 and those not renewing licences for more than six months and up to a year will be penalised up to Rs 40,000, as per the new draft.
Similarly, any of the aforementioned tourism-related businesses or individuals found to be operating without being registered at any government body will be fined Rs 100,000.
The draft of the Travel and Trekking Guideline also allows registration of aforementioned tourism organisations and individuals through local offices of DoT.
A version of this article appears in print on December 30, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.