Tourist arrivals down marginally

Tourist arrivals to Nepal via air dropped by a marginal 0.3 percent to 585,981 in 2014 compared to figures of a year.

Tourist arrivals to Nepal via air dropped by a marginal 0.3 percent to 585,981 in 2014 compared to figures of a year.

This is the second straight year that Nepal has witnessed fewer tourist arrivals via aerial route. In 2013, tourist arrivals had dropped by 1.73 percent to 587,842. Number of tourists in 2012, however, had increased by 9.8 percent to 598.204.

Drop in tourist arrivals have been blamed to the impacts of avalanche in the Everest region in April and blizzards in the Annapurna Region in October. Similarly, closure of casinos and travel advisory to European visitors by the European Commission not to use Nepali airlines also affected tourist arrivals, according to tourism entrepreneurs.

Issuing a statement, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) said Nepal observed a sustained growth in international tourist arrivals in January, February, April and May but suffered a fall from June onwards. “The decline suggests that Nepal needs to promote its tourism products in the international market more aggressively in order to increase tourist arrivals,” the statement added.

Arrivals from India increased by fell by 35.46 percent to 105,283. However, number of tourists from China increased by 17.86 percent to 71,107 in 2014.

CIAA prepares to file corruption case against Nirola

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is preparing to file corruption against the then acting CEO of NTB Subash Nirola after confirming his involvement in misappropriation of millions of rupees in NTB.

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is preparing to file corruption against the then acting CEO of NTB Subash Nirola after confirming his involvement in misappropriation of millions of rupees in NTB.

CIAA has directed the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) to suspend Nirola from the post after finding his involvement in embezzlement of more than Rs 50 million in the name of tourism promotion.

On October 30, MoCTCA suspended Nirola until January-end as per the direction of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC took the decision after studying report prepared by a committee led by joint secretary Purna Chandra Bhattarai.

MoCTCA had formed probe committee under Bhattarai after tourism entrepreneurs, at the call of Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JUTCC), bivouacked in NTB premises for nearly two months, barring Nirola from the office. The protest had affected tourism promotional activities of NTB.

CIAA has also directed the tourism ministry to produce Nirola before CIAA for interrogation. It plans to charge-sheet Nirola in the court after interrogating him. “The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has been hereby directed to suspend and present Nirola before the CIAA as retaining him to the post could result in loss and destruction of evidences,” CIAA said in a statement.

According to the probe report, Nirola had coerced the executive committee of NTB to amend its financial by-laws which authorized him to award contracts sans competitive, bypassing the Public Procurement Act. Similarly, it authorized NTB CEO to spend up to Rs 10 million at a time for tourism promotion in Nepal and up to US$ 400,000 in foreign countries.

Govt appoints three board members in NTB

The government has appointed tourism entrepreneurs Phurba Gyalzen Sherpa, Rajendra Sapkota and Ghanendra Bahadur Shrestha as members in the executive committee of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) from the private sector.

The government has appointed tourism entrepreneurs Phurba Gyalzen Sherpa, Rajendra Sapkota and Ghanendra Bahadur Shrestha as members in the executive committee of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) from the private sector.

A ministerial level meeting chaired by Tourism Minister Deepak Chandra Amatya held at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation took the decision on Thursday evening took the decision.

The meeting selected the three tourism entrepreneurs from a list of five recommended by a selection committee led by Joint Secretary Umakanta Parajuli. Former President of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Sitaram Sapkota and tourism entrepreneur Chandra Rijal were members of the selection committee.

This is Sherpa’s second term in the NTB’s executive board. Similarly, Sapkota is the chairman of Tourism Area Committee of CPN-UML. Likewise, Shrestha is the treasurer of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN). As per the NTB Act, five representatives from private sector have to be nominated to the executive committee of NTB.

The ministry appointed only three private sector representatives in the executive committee as two incumbent members — Dhruba Narayan Shrestha and Rebat Bahadur Thapa  – still has tenure of another two years.

Govt reduces Everest climbing fee

The government has reduced Mt Everest climbing permit fee for foreign climbers by more than 50 percent. It has also reduced permit fee for all peaks opened for mountaineering.

The government has reduced Mt Everest climbing permit fee for foreign climbers by more than 50 percent. It has also reduced permit fee for all peaks opened for mountaineering.

Officials say the new move is aimed at increasing the number of mountaineers in the country.

The government had reduced permit fee for Nepali climbers about a year ago. The new climbing fee for foreign climbers came into effect from January 1.

Officials of Department of Tourism (DoT) say reduction in climbing permit fee will relay positive message about Nepal in international arena.

Now onwards, foreign climber will need to pay US$ 11,000 per person for climbing Mt Everest via normal route in the spring season. Earlier, they need to pay $25,000 per person. For other routes, permit fee has been fixed at $10,000 per person. Earlier, climbers were required to pay $15,000 per person.

Similarly, permit fee to climb Mt Everest via normal in autumn season has been revised to $5,500 per person. Earlier, mountaineers were required to pay $12,500 per person.

The permit fee has been revised as per the recommendations of a committee led by Purna Chandra Bhattarai formed to review existing permit fee.

Similarly, permit fee for mountains above 8,000 meters, excluding Mt Everest, has been fixed at $1,800 per person. Likewise, permit for mountains between 7,500 meters to 7,999 has been fixed at $600 per person and permit for mountains between 7,000 meters to 7,499 meters has been fixed at $500.

Altogether 1,792 mountains have been identified in Nepal. Of them, 326 peaks have been opened for mountaineering. Eight of 14 peaks above 8,000 meters, including Mt Everest – the tallest peak on earth – lie in Nepal.

NTB seeks inputs from pvt sector on annual budget

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on Sunday held discussions with private sector on its annual programs and activities.

Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on Sunday held discussions with private sector on its annual programs and activities.

At the program, NTB officials said they were hoping to mobilize revenue of Rs 951 million in fiscal year 2014/15. NTB’s revenue comes from Tourism Service Fee (TSF) and Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS). TSF is levied on foreign tourists before they depart from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Similarly, TIMS fee is collected from trekkers heading to different trekking areas in Everest, Langtang and Annapurna regions.

The projected revenue is up by 57 percent compared to revenue figures of 2013/14.

Representatives of different travel trade associations had participated in the discussion program.

NTB has proposed a significant fund to organize Himalayan International Travel Mart in Kathmandu and to promote Nepal through advertisements in different international media and to organize fam trips for foreign journalists.

Tourism entrepreneurs, especially those affiliated with Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC), had waged protest against NTB earlier this year, pressing it to organize Himalayan International Travel Mart instead of National Tourism Fair.

NTB has proposed a budget of Rs 278.6 to promote Nepali tourism products and services in the international market. Its regular programs include promotion of domestic tourism and organizing national fairs in different regions. Similarly, it participates in travel marts, sales missions and road shows in different countries across the globe.

NTB has proposed a budget of Rs 279 million to open its offices in India and China – two major tourist generating markets for Nepal.

This is probably the first time NTB has sought suggestions from the private sector in its annual programs and activities. Relationship between NTB and private sector got bitter when the latter organized protest against then acting CEO of NTB Subash Nirola.

Nirola has been suspended by government as per the direction of the Public Accounts Committee of legislature-parliament.