KATHMANDU, JUL 27 – The private sector has proposed two-tier board for Nepal Tourism Board (NTB)—NTB Council and NTB—in a bid to ensure its effective functioning, mobilisation of resources and supervision.
As per the private sector’s proposal, the council would play a supervisory role and will be engaged in monitoring the tourism promotional body. Tourism Minister would chair the council.
And, NTB would be responsible for tourism promotional activities at national and international levels. The private sector has proposed its representative to lead the NTB board. At present, Tourism Ministry secretary chairs the board.
After widespread criticism about NTB’s underperformance and misuse of resources, Tourism Minister Bhim Prasad Acharya had directed his ministry officials to form a 15-member high-level committee to recommend the government on NTB restructuring. The committee led by Mohan Krishna Sapkota, joint-secretary of the ministry, includes 12 private sector representatives.
“Although the deadline to submit the report has ended, we have asked three additional weeks,” said Ramesh Dhamala, member of the committee representing the private sector.
He believes the formation of a council on top of the NTB board will ensure proper monitoring and will play effective role in policy making.
According to him, after the completion of the report, the proposal will be discussed extensively with the stakeholders concerned. As there several issues and some of which are to be addressed by the Cabinet, as well as the ministry, it will take some time for a complete restructuring of NTB.
NTB was established in 1998 as public-private partnership (PPP) with a mandate to promote Nepal in domestic and international markets. It was designed to function as an autonomous body and was an exemplary PPP model, but now there are flurry of complaints that the board has not been functioning as per its aims. For example, NTB has been stumbling along without its head since the then CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha’s tenure expired on Oct 31, 2011. Besides, NTB and the private sector are in an odd relationship after travel trade entrepreneurs charged that all programmes and projects were being conducted by the board unilaterally and have been misusing tax money.
As the government has permitted NTB to double the tourism service fee that it collects from tourists departing from Tribhuvan International Airport to Rs 1,000 from March 1, the NTB’s annual budget is expected to balloon to more than Rs 1.20 billion this fiscal year. The NTB’s budget was at Rs 580 million last fiscal.
As private sector has been charging NTB’s budget has not been allocated for genuine purposes, they said such a huge budget needs to be monitored effectively.
Earlier on May 15, 2013, a committee led by Purna Chandra Bhattarai, joint-secretary at the ministry, had submitted a report recommending structural and functional restructuring of NTB, but it was not implemented. The committee had submitted its report to the NTB board after a 75-day study.