Private sector asks the government to wake up as Visit Nepal 2020 nearsThere were many grievances— expensive jet fuel charge, haphazard taxes imposed on foreign trekkers, pollution and shoddy airport infrastructure—that need a fix.
Travel trade entrepreneurs have suggested temporary measures to the government to make Visit Nepal 2020 campaign successful, following the grievances over slow overseas promotional activities.
Visit Nepal 2020, Nepal’s third large-scale tourism promotional campaign envisions drawing two million foreign tourists and earning Rs200 billion. But travel trade entrepreneurs are worried that neither the government, the Nepal Tourism Board nor the Visit Nepal 2020 Secretariat has done anything substantial to promote Nepal abroad to attract tourists.
The Nepal Tourism Board and the Visit Nepal 2020 secretariat on Friday invited the travel trade fraternity for an interaction with a hope that the private sector’s suggestions can deliver quick results.
There were many grievances— expensive aviation fuel charge, haphazard taxes imposed on foreign trekkers, pollution, shoddy airport infrastructure and lack of overseas promotion—which the government have been suggested to deal with.
“There are many challenges in the aviation sector. The price of aviation fuel in Nepal is the most expensive in the world or almost double to the South Asia region,” said Vijay Shrestha, vice president-administration of Himalaya Airlines. “Even though we are a home-based airline, we are at a comparative disadvantage position.”
For example, according to Shrestha, jet fuel price in India is $600 per kilolitre and in the Middle East, it costs $550 per kilolitre. In Nepal, the fuel price is $1,050 per kilolitre. He said that the Himalaya Airlines has planned to connect three Chinese cities including Beijing soon.
“The government should encourage airlines by offering incentives to bring tourists,” he said, adding that the government should not discriminate private airlines. “The objective should be bringing tourists and contributing to the economy.”
In 2016, the parliamentary International Relations Committee had directed the Supplies and Tourism ministries to set the prices of jet fuel as per the market rate but the directives have not been implemented.
Abdullah Tuncer Kececi, general manager of Turkish Airlines, said that the fuel price, ground handling and other charges in Nepal is massive. “We buy 40 tonnes of fuel in Nepal per flight and it is super expensive.” The average jet fuel price in South Asia is $750 per kilolitre, he said. “But as a foreign airline, we are forced to pay $1,310 per kilolitre.”
He said that fuel price was the single biggest challenge for airlines flying to Nepal. “We see potential in the Nepal sector and are planning to promote the Himalaya nation in Turkey. Turkish Airlines has planned to increase flight frequency, but have to think twice before deciding due to the fuel price factor, he said.
CN Pandey, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents, said that the burden of high fuel cost is passed on to the passengers which make the ticket price expensive. “If the jet fuel price in Nepal is charged on a par with other international markets, ticket price in Nepal could go down by 40 percent. “Nepal can be a choice for many if the airfare comes down.”
Prominent tourism entrepreneur Basanta Raj Mishra said that the government and the Visit Nepal 2020 secretariat which has been given responsibility to promote Nepal have no clear road map to bring tourists from respective source markets.
It should be clear on achieving the growth target from India and China and the traditional and emerging source market. “Target is important no matter if it is achieved or not,” he said, adding that apart from the number, the government should target the revenue or income it wants to earn from tourists.
Mishra said that Nepal earned $617 million in foreign currency exchange from the tourism sector in 2018 and the government should target to more than double the income in 2020. He said that the marketing campaign should be strong and aggressive. “Pasting Nepal’s poster on two buses in a foreign country won’t be effective marketing.”
Nava Raj Dahal, president of Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal, said that the federal to local government, all are raising fees from tourists haphazardly and such trend discourages the tourism industry. “It should be one-door policy to raise fees on the national park, trekking and other sectors.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has requested the Visit Nepal 2020 secretariat and the private sector to submit their plan within three days. He said that a meeting would be invited immediately to address the grievances and problems that may hurt the country’s tourism promotion. “No one can escape from their responsibility. We have to make the campaign success.”
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