NIHWU flexes stir muscles, warns govt

KATHMANDU: Nepal Independent Hotel Workers’ Union (NIHWU) have threatened to launch protests if the government does not re-open the seven jungle resorts inside Chitwan National Park (CNP) that are lying closed since July 16.

“The closure of the jungle resorts inside CNP has affected 1,000 workers who depend on them for their livelihood,” said NIHWU general secretary Bishnu Lamsal. In a statement, NIHWU condemed the government’s decision to close the jungle resorts without considering the consequences.

Tourism-related organizations in Sauraha had pressurized the government to relocate hotels operating inside the national park. The national park authourities ordered the resorts — Tiger Top Jungle Lodge, Machan Wildlife Camp, Chitwan Jungle Lodge, Gaida Wildlife Camp, Island Jungle Resort, Hotel Narayani Safari and Temple Tiger Camp to stop operations after their lease contracts expired on July 15.

“We will protest strongly if the government extends the lease contract under pressure from influential people,” said Sauraha Regional Hotel Association president Hari Bhakta Ghimire. He added that hoteliers outside the park had joined hands against the ones operating inside the parks because they believd that resorts operating inside the national park were spreading the false notion that only they were providing good services to tourists. Another Sauraha hotelier Shankar Sainju said, “We will be compelled to look for legal remedies because the extension of the lease contracts would be against the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act.” The hoteliers have threatened to take the issue to court if the lease contracts are renewed.

Citing the dependence of 5000 households on the resorts NIHWU is demanding these be re-opened. It also said the closure will increase smuggling and hunting of endangered species in CNP.