Bid to revive Nepal tourism gains momentum

KATHMANDU: A high-level national committee led by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa has decided to bring country’s tourism industry back on track.

“National tourism promotion committee has taken significant decisions to carry out joint efforts for the rebuilding and promotion of the tourism sector in the aftermath of tremors, as the sector incurred

a loss of more than Rs 18 billion,” committee’s member secretary Tulsi Gautam said.

The panel stated that country needed the tourists to revive its economy. “The Kathmandu Valley has been declared a disaster-hit zone only to dismantle quake-hit structures but the entire city is safe for visitors, as most of the historical, as well as heritage sites, are already open for public viewing,” said Gautam, who is also Director General, Department of Tourism.

The panel has also decided to immediately introduce weather forecast system in the base camps of major peaks, including Mt Everest, to facilitate trekkers and expedition members visiting the areas. “The concerned agencies have already been instructed to ensure safety and security for the visiting tourists,” NTPC member Nima Nuru Sherpa said.

NTPC has also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make necessary efforts to relax the travel advisories issued by western countries through its diplomatic channel. “The international agencies have been asked to give priority to choose Nepal as their venue for different meetings, exhibitions and fairs.” Nepali missions abroad will be asked to carry out tourism promotion events at the earliest while government will also plan exchange visits for national and international tour operators.

According to NTPC, the ministries will be requested to exempt the provision of value added tax on aviation fuel to reduce the aviation fee. “Nepal Airlines Corporation will be asked to slash the ground handling cost at Tribhuvan International Airport to encourage international air operators,” the panel’s 20-point decision read, adding that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal will also be urged to decrease its landing cost at TIA.

Minister Sherpa said NTPC would also request the Ministry of Finance to announce a year-long tax holiday for all tourism-related industries to revitalise their businesses. “NTPC also proposes to provide concessions on interest on bank loans to the industries related to tourism and extend loan recovery deadline by a year.”

With an aim to normalise adventure tourism in the autumn season, NTPC claimed that most of the trekking and hiking routes, except Langtang, were safe for adventure activities. “NTPC has also formed a nine-member executive committee under the coordination of veteran tourism entrepreneur Yogendra Shakya, with Lakpa Sonam Sherpa as panel’s joint-coordinator to prepare short and long-term recovery plans,” Umakanta Parajuli, joint secretary at the ministry, said.

According to him, the committee will come out with a short-term action plan in a day or two.

Positive developments

•    The government authorises private sector to take lead in recovery efforts

•    NTPC to prepare short and long-term revival plans

•    Minister-led panel to be formed for tourism crisis response

•    US, UK and New Zealand relax post-quake travel advisories

•    International operators start bookings for upcoming autumn season

•    National stakeholders offering discount on tourism products