SOTTO-Nepal flexes stir muscles

KATHMANDU: The two years long conflict between the Board of Airlines Representatives in Nepal (BARN) and the travel agencies has resulted in the formation of Society of Travel and Tour Operators-Nepal (SOTTO-Nepal).

“NATTA being the umbrella association of domestic travel agencies has been unable to address the needs of NON-IATA agencies or non-stockists. So, SOTTO-Nepal has been formed to represent those travel agencies,” said general secretary Bodh Raj Bhandari.

He added that the 26-point demands of the NON-IATA agencies — primarily the existing problem of opening GDS system to these agencies has to be addressed by BARN and the government.

“The three main airline companies — Etihad Airlines, Pakisthan International Airlines and Qatar Airlines have halted the GDS facility that the travel agencies were getting,” said Bhandari.

He added that the immigration penalty and the responsibility of providing return

tickets to deported passengers must stop.

The travel agencies have clarified that they had been receiving a commission of

Rs 300 per ticket but the penalty that has to be paid is millions at a time.

“The real culprits are the airlines and the manpower agencies as they do not stop the boarding of passengers without confirmation of working papers or visa,” said SOTTO-Nepal president Sweta Archarya.

She added, “We have been issueing anti-promotional airline posters in order to press our demands and we will go on with our step-wise protest.”