The Nepali tourism fraternity celebrated 35th World Tourism Day (WTD) by organizing different programs on Saturday.
The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘Tourism and Community Development’.
A rally was taken out from Tridevi Marg in Thamel early on Saturday morning. The rally saw participation of Tourism secretary Suresh Man Shrestha and other high level officials of the tourism ministry, officials of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), travel trade entrepreneurs, representatives of different travel trade associations, and media persons, among others.
The rally started from Tridevi Marg and passed through Durbarmarg, Bhadrakali Temple, Shahid Gate before converging into a corner meet at Basantapur.
Speaking at the program, Secretary Shrestha said tourism can empower local communities and can boost the industry “But it is necessary to explore and promote new tourism products and services,” he added. He also told tourism entrepreneurs that the government was committed to resolve ongoing problems at NTB.
Daily activities of NTB were hampered for nearly two months in April-May due to protest by the Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) against alleged financial irregularities in NTB.
To celebrate the day, different tourism service providers announced special offers for foreign tourists. The offers ranged from free stay in hotels, to discount in restaurants, free city tour and free river rafting, among others.
Alleged financial irregularities at NTB have seriously hampered its performance and the government’s failure to sort out the issue has soured the relationship of the private sector with NTB.
“Each time we travel, use local transport at a destination or buy products from a local market we are contributing to a long value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and ultimately brings in new opportunities for a better future,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO) said in his message. “As we approach the 2015 deadline for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and prepare to embrace the new sustainable development goals, this year’s WTD represents an opportunity to further advance tourism’s contribution to economic, social and environmental sustainability.”
Tourists were welcomed with cultural procession in Pokhara, Kakarvitta, Gaddhachauki and Kanchanpur by tourism stakeholders. Programs to celebrate the day were organized all over the country.
Tourism ministry sources say the 16-point decision taken by the meeting, which was chaired by the erstwhile tourism secretary Sushil Ghimire, puts liability of Rs 80 million on NTB. The decisions were taken a day before Ghimire retired from the post.
According to NTB statute, tourism secretary is the ex-officio chairman of NTB’s executive committee.
The executive committee meeting of NTB, chaired by new tourism secretary Suresh Man Shrestha, held on September 21 formed a four-member committee under Sudashan Dhakal, director general of Department of Immigration (DoI), to probe into the decisions and their justifications.
The 16-point decision taken by the 192nd executive committee of NTB, among others, allows acting CEO of NTB Subash Nirola to make payment for additional security personnel hired by him citing security threats and for advertisements published in different newspapers and media houses at the height of the protest launched against irregularities in NTB by Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC).
All three executive members from the private sector, who were present in the meeting, hadn´t signed the meeting minutes, sources say.
Most of the decisions of the 192nd meeting were taken as per the controversial Financial Bylaws 2070 that authorizes the CEO to spend huge amount of money on his own discretion.
High Ground Adventure, which operates Nepal’s first and only zipline, has started bungee jump in Pokhara.
The company also operates a zipline in Pokhara.
Bungee is the newest adventure sport added in Pokhara after ultralight, paragliding, rafting, canyoning, and zipline among others.
High Ground Adventures is promoted by Golchha Organizations — one of the leading corporate houses of the country.
The bungee is about 70 meters tall. Jumpers will first climb a 45-meter tall tower atop a small hillock and jump down toward a 10-feet deep artificial lake on the banks of Yamdi Khola.
This is the second bungee jumping site in the country. The Last Resort operates bridge-suspended bungee jump in Sindhupalchowk district.
High Ground Adventure has invested Rs 20 million in the project. The company has fixed bungee jump fee at Rs 3,490 for Nepalis and Rs 6,890 for foreign tourists. Locals of the area get 50 percent discount.
According to officials of High Ground Adventure, more than 15,000 visitors have enjoyed its zipline so far.
The company has also floated a combo package offering visitors zipline and bungee service at Rs 5,490 (for Nepalis) and Rs 9,990 (for foreigners).
The company has hired a Latvian instructor to conduct bungee jump.
Godavari Village Resort of Lalitpur has resumed operation after a hiatus of nearly three months.
The management had closed the resort after workers stopped performing their responsibilities to press the management fulfill their demands. Now they have allowed the resort to resume operations after the management agreed to fulfill three of their demands.
Workers had stopped their work on June 23 9 to press the management to fulfill their demands. In response, the management had padlocked all the rooms and shut operations of the resort altogether.
Following the management’s decision, the workers had been staging peaceful sit-in in the resort premises.
According to resort officials, the management has agreed to provide 100 percent bonus, maternity allowance of Rs 2,500 and another Rs 2,500 allowance in case family members of workers die.
The resort reportedly lost Rs 25 million in revenue for the closure period. Officials say the resort was unlikely to record good business in the coming tourist season as it hadn’t accepted booking for the new season.
Established 18 years ago, Godavari Village Resort currently employs 130 workers. It has 69 deluxe rooms and five conference rooms and two in-house restaurants.
Deepak Chandra Amatya has been appointed as the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala administered the oath of office to Amatya and new Minister for Industry Mahesh Basnet amid a function held at the President’s Office on Sunday.
Amatya was appointed tourism minister after ruling CPN-UML decided to recall Bhim Prasad Acharya. Similarly, Basnet replaces Karna Bahadur Thapa as the industry minister. The party had decided to recall Acharya and Thapa from the government on Friday.
President Ram Baran Yadav, Vice President Paramananda Jha, Deputy Prime Ministers Bamdev Gautam and Prakashman Singh, former Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli, chiefs of constitutional bodies and chief secretary, among others, were present at the searing-in ceremony.