Just not enough tourist coaches to go around

KATHMANDU: Lack of sufficient tourist vehicles with green number plates has forced tourism entrepreneurs here to use vehicles with red number plates. The entrepreneurs in a programme today urged the government to grant 100 per cent tax facilitation so that they can sufficient number of tourist vehicles.

Speaking at the programme organised by Nepal Tourism Vehicles’ Association (NTVA), Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Sharat Singh Bhandari advised tourism entrepreneurs to conduct talks with the government regarding the facilitation sought by them.

He said, “We do not have lack of investment. our tourism market can make much profit, but we need to have practical discussions. NTY 2011 targets establishing tourism as the economic foundation of Nepal rather than just the number of tourists for that year.”

NTVA president Ram Hari Sharma said the tourist vehicle industry has an investment of more than Rs 4 billion and more than 1700 workers are engaged in this sector. The industry has more than 1,250 vehicles but these are not enough to support the volume of tourist arrival.

The government used to grant 50 per cent tax exemption to tourism entrepreneurs to buy tourist coaches for travel and tour operations. Such tourist coaches purchased after tax exemption must be used for 10 years before their transfer of ownership.

Three years ago, the high level committee for tourism under the leadership of National Planning Commission vice-chairman Yuvaraj Khatiwada had taken a decision regarding the import of tourist vehicles. The decision still awaits implementation.

According to Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) president Ashok Pokharel, buying such a large number of tourist coaches would be too costly even though the existing vehicles are now not good enough to be used anymore. Even bank interest rates are also not affordable as banks charges 16 per cent to 18 per cent interest, he added.

On the occasion, sub-inspector Basanta Pant spoke about the lack of cooperation for proper traffic management. Pant said, “Previously, tourist vehicles operated before peak hours. Tourist vehicles’ time and business hours overlap causing trouble in traffic management. “

New destination

KATHMANDU: The government is set to announce new destinations for Nepal Tourism Year 2011. Speaking at a programme organised by NTVA, Tourism Miinister Bhandari said the new tourist destination in Nepal targeting NTY 2011 would be made public soon. He also called for market specialisation.