NATO urges govt to declare tourism a national industry

Kathmandu, June 18:

Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has asked the government to declare tourism as a national industry and provide special package for the tourism industry to boost its confidence.

In the recommendations submitted to the finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat for the budget yesterday, NATO has urged the government to organise a large number of familiarisation trips to and from Nepal to rebuild the lost tourism image and to regain the lost confidence of tourists. “A high-level team should visit major tourist generating markets and effectively promote Nepal in the eyes of travellers and tour operators,” read the NATO recommendations.

It has also asked the government to support to enhance competitive strength of Nepali travel and tour operators to compete with the regional vibrant competitors.

“The government should provide tax rebates and facilities to the tour operators to revitalise their fleets,” it stated.

According to the recommendations, in the first phase, the government should give such facilities to bring in five vehicles, and three more in the second phase.

NATO has also suggested not to introduce new taxes or fees in the budget. “The budget should focus on building the confidence of all the sectors, particularly the tourism industry,

by sticking to its previous programmes and policies.”

Efforts should be made to encourage new international airlines to conduct flights to Nepal as well as those already flying to Nepal and those willing to increase air seats should be granted permission without any delay, stated the NATO recommendations.

“By giving special concession rates, charter flights to Nepal should be lured, and policies that affect the tourist inflow should be relaxed.”

In the tourism infrastructure front, NATO has asked the land route between Kathmandu and major tourist destinations be made at least four-lane highway. “Reliable tourist information centres should be established at several points along the routes,” it stated. NATO has further stressed on the need of strengthening the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to make Nepal a successful tourist destination.

“Every successful tourism destination has a strong national carrier behind it. It plays a more vital role especially in a landlocked country like Nepal.”

Stating that crisis in the banking sector of a country would mean a crisis in the entire economy, NATO has suggested that those who disobey to repay their loans to banks, despite having the capability to pay, should be penalised. “Stringent actions against wilful defaulters should be taken,” concluded the NATO recommendations.