Tourism sector cries for tax relief

KATHMANDU: Though the government has announced Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 as its most ambitious campaign yet, it has not drawn up proper procedures for tourism entrepreneurs so that they get tax facilitation to buy sufficient vehicles for tourists.

According to Dhruba Narayan Shrestha, coordinator of the tourism sector at Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Copmmerce and Industries (FNCCI) and member of NTY 2011 working committee, there was a facility of 50 per cent tax exemption on the purchase of tourist vehicles but since long the government has not allowed the facility and that has resulted in insufficient number of tourist coaches.

Vehicles for ferrying

tourists are assigned green number plates but due to lack

of sufficient tourist vehicles, tour and travel operators here are forced to use vehicles with red number plates.

Arjun Prasad Sharma, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), said that the lack of tourist vehicles has compelled them to use vehicles with red number plates as tourist vehicles. The government should streamline the basic requirements of the tourism sector, he added.

Earlier, the government used to grant 50 per cent tax exemption to tourism entrepreneurs to buy tourist coaches. According to the rule, such tourist coaches purchased after tax exemption should be plied for 10 years before transfer of their ownership.

“Although the high level committee for tourism under the leadership of Yuvaraj Khatiwada, the present vice-chairman of National Planning Commission, had made a decision three years ago regarding the import of tourist vehicles, the decision still awaits implementation,” said Shrestha adding that the committee had arranged for the transfer of ownership of the vehicles after just five years of their purchase but there is no move in this regard by the government.

Shrestha also said that targeting NTY 2011 the committee is also developing a plan to operate tourist express service for both domestic and international tourists but the government has not formulated a proper policy or tax exemption on the purchase of tourist vehicles. He added that without the tax exemption it was difficult

to replace the existing worn out vehicles. He said a single tourist bus comes at a minimum cost of Rs 50-60 lakh.