Panel suggests ways to boost tourism, aviation

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 12:

The high-level task force formed by the government to recommend ways to boost the sagging tourism and aviation sector has put forward its recommendations to the government to make substantial changes in the sectors. The eleven-member panel led by National Planning Commission member Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada and tourism secretary Dr Bhoj Raj Ghimire has recommended the government to make infrastructural, promotional, legal and policy level changes in tourism sector.

In its report, the panel has suggested the authorities to make home and immigration department’s services practical and set up a banking counter at the department for depositing foreign currencies for trekking and visa permits.

It has recommended to issue trekking permits to foreigners once they apply for visa permits after receiving their copies of passports and recommendations from the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal or the trekking agents concerned. However, the trekking fees should be refunded to the trekkers if they fail to trek due to bandhs, blockades and curfews, the panel said. It has urged the authorities to strengthen Nepal Tourism Board so that it could generate at least $ 500,000 annually through various means for tourism promotion. It has further suggested the government to set apart certain amount from the revenue generated from trekkers for rescue operations. Considering the dwindling occupancy rates in hotels and resorts, the government should waive 75 per cent of the royalty collected from the hotels and resorts which have hired the property of national parks on lease. It should, however, be revised annually after monitoring the occupancy rates.

On aviation front, the report has pointed out the need to cut down landing, parking, navigation and handling charges for airlines at the TIA and encourage chartered flights by slashing 50 per cent of the royalty on such flights. It has highlighted the need to strengthen RNAC and that it should at least have four Boeings for international operations.