NTB fails to pass budget due to delayed verdictThe Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) was not able to pass its annual budget this week too as the anticipated final court verdict for the reinstatement of its three board members has not been issued.
The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) was not able to pass its annual budget this week too as the anticipated final court verdict for the reinstatement of its three board members has not been issued.
The three board members had been removed by the government as they were political appointees of the previous Sher Bahadur Deuba administration. The trio went to court to get their old positions back, and a final verdict is pending.
The budget needs to be approved by mid-July. The NTB said that it had decided to get the financial plan passed by the current board members, and not wait for the court ruling. The tourism promotional body has proposed a budget of Rs1.25 billion for this fiscal year.
“The budget is almost finalised. Tentatively, we expect to pass it by September 12,” said Deepak Raj Joshi, chief executive officer of the NTB. “It is expected to be approved after Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari returns from China,” he said. Adhikari is leaving for China on Thursday.
The ousted members—Deepak Mahat, Krishna Mahara and Abdesh Kumar Das—had been appointed to the board by the then tourism minister Jitendra Narayan Dev. They filed a writ at the court against their removal which granted an interim order in their favour.
“Since we did not know what the court would say in its final verdict, we decided to wait for a few weeks. However, now an understanding has been reached to let them continue in their posts and pass the budget,” said Joshi.
The NTB’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the government and the private sector besides the CEO. The budget has to be passed by a majority of the board members.
As per the financial plan, nearly 40 percent or Rs500 million has been earmarked for international marketing and publicity. Under this category, the board has set aside Rs100 million to carry out promotional activities in China and India, said Joshi.
According to him, the board will carry out promotional activities from this fiscal year targeting the off season—monsoon and winter—as arrivals fall during this period. To promote local events and product development, the board has proposed a budget of Rs250 million.
The board has also allocated a significant amount of the budget for training and capacity building of its employees and digital marketing. As the Tourism Ministry has allocated Rs100 million for the promotion of Visit Nepal Year 2020 which envisages hosting two million visitors, the NTB has not set aside funds to publicise the event.
According to Joshi, they have yet to decide how much to spend on bringing tour operators and media persons to Nepal from across the world to promote the country.
The NTB’s revenue comes from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). It collects a tourism service fee of Rs1,130 from each foreign traveller departing from TIA.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months of 2018 reached 593,299 individuals, up 18 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the NTB.