Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) on December 12 organized an interaction with partner travel trade associations to discuss pertinent issues in Nepali tourism sector.
Along with TAAN, representatives of seven travel trade associations – Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATTA), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA), Nepal Tourist Vehicles Association (NTVA), PATA Nepal Chapter and Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA), participated in the interaction.
Welcoming the participants, TAAN General Secretary Sagar Pandey proposed forming a joint coordination committee of travel trade associations to lobby with the government on important issues related to Nepali tourism sector. “Individual voice will go unheard, the government will entertain our voice only if we are united,” he added.
Similarly, Madhusudan Acharya, 1st vice-president of NATTA, said tourism associations should make joint efforts to press the government to recognize tourism as a national priority industry and provide facilities accordingly. “We should also request the political parties and other groups to not resort to banda and strikes,” he added.
Shyam Sundar Lal Kakshapti, president of HAN, also said travel trade associations should form a joint coordination committee to lobby with policymakers on issues related to tourism industry. He also said the travel trade associations should press the government to relax customs duty on vehicles to be used by tourism enterprises. “We also need to meet the EU ambassador to Nepal to know why Nepali airlines have been banned from flying in European skies. This will help the government to initiate necessary measures to lift the ban at the earliest,” he added. He also said the committee should also raise issues related to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) with the government.
Speaking on the occasion, Ram Sharan Karki, president of NTVA, stressed the need to control free movement of Indian vehicles in Nepal. “Indian vehicles are openly doing sight-seeing in Nepal. We can’t compete with them as we have to pay more than 200 percent customs duty on vehicles while they pay no such duty at all,” he added. He also proposed to open Tourism Welfare Petrol Pump so that tourist vehicles get fuel even when petroleum products in supply. He also said transportation syndicate was creating problems for smooth operation of tourist vehicles in different parts of the country. “We should also give hospitality training to transportation staff and provide uniform for them,” he added.
Suman Pandey of PATA Nepal Chapter said we cannot form integrated voice unless we shed our petty interests. “NTB is the epicenter of Nepali tourism. We should press the government to make its activities more effective,” he added. He also proposed to organize Himalayan Travel Mart to promote tourism destinations in the Himalayas. “Nepali tourism entrepreneurs not only sell Nepal, they also operate groups in Tibet, Bhutan, India and Pakistan,” he said, adding that mart would be instrumental in promoting destinations there.
NARA President Chandra Dahal said it is high time travel trade associations joined hands for conservation of rivers. He also said the government should introduce River Information Management System (RIMS) to control illegal operation of rafting business.
Bikram Neupane of HRA said NTB should be made accountable to the private sector. Diwas Pokhrel of NMA urged TAAN to seek membership of UIAA and UAAA.
Keshav Pandey, senior vice-president of TAAN, underlined the need to call a joint meeting of travel trade associations and prepare tourism action plan by collecting their suggestions.
TAAN President Ramesh Dhamala said the government should control illegal operation of trekking business by NGOs, INGOs and other individuals. He also called upon the participants to do the needful for preservation of Bishnumati River. “We need to collect suggestions of travel trade associations and work jointly for tourism development,” he added. Dhamala also proposed to the representatives of different travel trade associations to hold joint meeting with tourism officials to make NTB more accountable to the private sector.
source: TAAN, 12 DEC 2013