Monthly Archives: May 2014

Political leaders support JTCC protest

Leaders of different political parties have showed solidarity to the ongoing protest being organized by Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) for the last 20 days.

Baburam Bhattarai

Former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai addressing the program.

Leaders of different political parties have showed solidarity to the ongoing protest being organized by Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) for the last 20 days.

JTCC has been organizing series of protest against NTB, putting forth demands like removal of Subash Nirola from the post of acting CEO of NTB to pave the way for early appointment of new CEO, independent audit of expenditures made by NTB over the past five years, and institutional representation of private sector in the board of NTB, among others.

Former Prime Ministers Dr Baburam Bhattarai and Sher Bahadur Deuba visited the relay hunger site on Monday and expressed solidarity to the ongoing protest. “I show my solidarity to the relay hunger strike organized by JTCC to protest irregularities and corruption in NTB. I also request the authorities concerned to fulfill the genuine demands raised by the tourism entrepreneurs,” Bhattarai said, addressing the program.

Similarly, Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said he has already talked with CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal regarding demands placed by JTCC. “Your demands are genuine. I will draw the attention of the concerned authorities toward our demand,” he added.

Sher Bahadur

(From left) Former Home Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka, Former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Dhamala at the relay hunger strike.

Former home minister and joint general secretary of Nepali Congress Purna Bahadur Khadka also expressed solidarity to the ongoing protest.

On Sunday, CPN-UML vice president Bidya Bhandari had expressed solidarity to the relay hunger strike. Terming the demands put forth by JTCC as genuine, she said: “I express solidarity to the relay hunger strike organized by JTCC.” Bikash Lamsal, CPN-UML lawmaker from Parbat, also expressed solidarity to the ongoing protest.

Similarly, UCPN (Maoist) leader Agni Sapkota also expressed solidarity to the ongoing protest and assured that he would play the needful role from his party to address the demand at the earliest.

UML leader Prakash Jwala said he would personally talk with tourism minister Bhim Acharya regarding the demand put forward by JTCC. “I am aware of the irregularities at NTB,” he said, expressing solidarity to the ongoing protest.

Likewise, Mahesh Basnet, chairman of Youth Association Nepal, expressed the solidarity of his association to the ongoing protest. He also said the association was ready to provide necessary support to the protest.

Pampha Dhamala, board member of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), along with 24 other representatives of different travel trade associations participated in the hunger strike in the morning session on Monday.

Mishra elected ‘secretary & treasurer’ of PATA

Basanta Raj Mishra, the chairman of the Temple Tiger Group, has been elected to the post of ‘secretary & treasurer’ in the new executive committee of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

PATA

Mishra attending 63rd Annual General Meeting of PATA in Zhuhai of China.

Basanta Raj Mishra, the chairman of the Temple Tiger Group, has been elected to the post of ‘secretary & treasurer’ in the new executive committee of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

The 63rd Annual General Meeting of the association held in Zhuhai of China on May 16-18 elected Mishra to the post, according to a statement received on Sunday. The meeting elected eight members to the executive committee in which Scott Supernaw and Kevin Murphey are chairman and vice chairman, respectively. Ramon Jimenez Jr, Minister of Tourism from Philippines and four others, were elected as members to the executive board, according to the statement.

A renowned figure of Nepali tourism industry, Mishra served as the board member of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) right after its initiation. He was the chairman of PATA Nepal Chapter from 1992 to 1996.

“This is the highest position a Nepali national has achieved since Nepal joined PATA in 1975,” the statement added.

Similarly, Suman Pandey, chairman of PATA Nepal Chapter, has been elected as member, while Ashok Pokharel, president of Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO), has been named proxy member in the board of PATA.

JTCC begins relay hunger strike

Agitating travel trade entrepreneurs have begun a six-day relay hunger strike on the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to pile pressure on the government to address their demands.

JTCC

Participants of 12-hour hunger strike organized by JTCC in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board on Thursday.

Agitating travel trade entrepreneurs have begun a six-day relay hunger strike on the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to pile pressure on the government to address their demands.

Organizing a press meet in Kathmandu on Thursday, Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) unveiled second phase of protest programs.

As per the protest program, 25 representatives of different travel trade associations will participate in 12-hour hunger strike for the next six days. DB Limbu, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA); Ram Sharan Thapaliya, president of Thamel Tourism Development Committee (TTDC), Chandra Dahal, president of Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA); Karna Lama, president of Nepal Canyoning Association (NCA); Tilak Thapa Magar of Magar Tourism Society, Nilhari Bastola of Trekking Agnecies Association of Nepal (TAAN); Bimal Naharki of Association of Kailash Tours Operators (AKTON) are participating in the relay hunger strike on the first day.

Addressing the program, Ramesh Dhamala, coordinator of JTCC and president of TAAN, said they would announce strong protest programs if their demands are not addressed in the next six days. “We met Prime Minister Sushil Koirala today and apprised him of our demands. He is positive toward our demand,” Dhamala said, adding, “We are always ready to sit for talks; we would withdraw our protest once our demands are addressed.”

JTCC has demanded removal of Subash Nirola from the post of acting CEO of NTB to pave the way for early appointment of new CEO, independent audit of expenditures made by NTB over the past five years, and institutional representation of private sector in the board of NTB, among others.

As many as 35 travel trade associations and tourism related bodies from across the country are under the umbrella of JTCC.

JTCC issues white paper on irregularities in NTB

Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) on Monday issued a white paper on anomalies allegedly perpetrated by acting CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Subash Niroula.

JTCC

Office-bearers of JTCC at a press meet organized to unveil the white paper in Kathmandu.

Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) on Monday issued a white paper on anomalies allegedly perpetrated by acting CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Subash Niroula.

In the white paper, the Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) – a forum of different travel trade associations – has argued that the amended Financial Bylaws of NTB contradicts with the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007.

President of PATA Nepal Chapter Suman Pandey read out the white paper.

As per the Bylaws, the CEO can spend up to Rs 10 million at a time for tourism promotion activities inside the country and US$ 400,000 at a time outside the country without following due procedure prescribed by the Public Procurement Act. In addition to that, the Bylaws allow NTB to procure goods and services worth up to Rs 2.5 million without inviting tender. As per the Public Procurement Act, offices should ask for quotation to purchase goods worth more than Rs 1 million.

Niroula has also been blamed of freezing NTB’s bank accounts maintained at Nepal Investment Bank and Nabil Bank. The accounts were operated by NTB Director Nandini Lahe Thapa.

“Earlier, auditors could conduct independent audit and submit report to the committee. But the amended bylaws say auditors have to work as per the direction of the chief executive. This shows Niroula is involved in financial anomalies,” Deepak Mahat, president of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal), said at the program.

Tourism entrepreneurs have also accused Niroula of submitting expenses of his personal visits to India at the board. Niroula has also been accused to traveling in economy class and submitting the expenditure of business class tickets.

JTCC has also accused Niroula of hiring his near and dear ones as interns instead of fulfilling the vacant posts at NTB. Besides, he has been accused of creating posts such as officer in-charge, manager in-charge and deputy CEO going against the Employees Bylaws.

Ramesh Dhamala, coordinator of Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) and president of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), said the three-member probe panel formed by the tourism ministry on Sunday won’t be acceptable for them. “The government should first include representatives of private sector and tourism experts in the team,” Dhamala added.

Representatives of around 31 different travel trade associations are protesting against NTB, on the aegis of JTCC, for the past two weeks.

Body believed to be of missing Australian trekker found

The body believed to be of missing Australian trekker Matt Allpress has been found near a village in Annapurna Region – a popular trekking trail in Nepal.

Matt Allpress

Margaret Allpress with Matt’s portrait at a press meet held in Kathmandu on April 25.

The body believed to be of missing Australian trekker Matt Allpress has been found near a village in Annapurna Region – a popular trekking trail in Nepal.

A Facebook page set up by Matt’s family states: “It is unfortunate that we have to report this news: On 10th May two local Nepali people foraging in the mountains above Sikles, about one hour off the main track, found human remains. The next day, authorities went to the site and reported finding personal equipment belonging to Mr Allpress”.

Matt has been missing in the Annapurna Region since November. He was on a 10-day solo trek.

Police are at the incident site. The remains, however, are yet to be formally identified as being that of the 23-year-old trekker.

At a press meet organized by Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) in Kathmandu on April 25, Matt’s mother Margaret said her son was on a solo trek to Dudhpokhari in Lamjung after completing the Annapurna Circuit Trek. “He informed us on November 3 from a guesthouse in Sikles that he would be out of contact for 9-10 days, heading toward a place called Dudhpokhari and that he would back to catch a flight to Sydney on November 14. That was the last time we heard from him,” a tearful Margaret had said.

The Allpress family has conducted land and aerial searches to find his whereabouts, but without success.