Everest Hotel plans a comeback without clearing outstanding duesDepartment of Tourism says the five-star property owes Rs103.5 million to the government.
As The Everest Hotel in Baneshwor prepares to return to life from hibernation, the Department of Tourism says the five-star property, which owes a large amount to the government in unpaid taxes, has not taken approval for an environmental impact assessment or carried out the required procedures.
The Everest Hotel, which has remained shuttered for four years and intends to resume operations by September-end, has not even informed the department about its comeback plans.
On May 26, 2015, the hotel had been given a ‘red sticker’ by a government team declaring the building unfit to live in following the powerful aftershock on May 12 that severely damaged three main pillars in the hotel’s lobby.
The hotel said it had been retrofitting and renovating the property. “We have planned to open the hotel by the end of September or before the Dashain festival,” said Narayan Poudel, chief of the Human Resource Department at the hotel. “We are renovating the hotel,” he said.
“The hotel has been doing retrofitting, and once it is completed, permission will be sought from the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction to operate the property.” Poudel said he was not aware of the hotel’s unpaid dues.
Narayan Bhattarai, an official at the Tourism Department, said the hotel owes Rs103.5 million in outstanding dues to the government. “The hotel that used to house Casino Everest has not settled its dues,” he said, adding that without clearing those payments, it would not be authorised to operate.
Besides, according to Bhattarai, the hotel has not applied for an environmental impact assessment, which is mandatory for all new and old hotels with more than 100 beds. “It has not even informed the department about its resumption. Without fulfilling all the legal procedures, it cannot operate the hotel,” said Bhattarai.
Immediately after the 2015 earthquake, the 160-room, five-star property had initially been given a ‘green sticker’, declaring it fit for habitation. However, strong and continuous aftershocks since then had made it unsafe to live in, and the government inspection team had placed a red sticker on the property.
The red sticker means that the structure has been damaged to the extent that it is dangerous to inhabit. The government team had said that the hotel could be strengthened through retrofitting, and urged the owner to act accordingly.
At that time, a number of structural experts had said that the hotel could be operated after repairs. But considering that a five-star hotel should have adequate safety measures, the team decided to red-tag the property.
Nepal’s hotel industry is once again on a building spree. At least a dozen five-star hotels are under construction across the country, fueled by optimism that the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign will draw 2 million tourists and that growth will continue in the years ahead.
According to industry insiders, more than Rs45 billion has been injected into the hospitality industry.
This year, the Tourism Department awarded a five-star rating to four hotels—Soaltee Westend Premier and Hotel Central Plaza in Nepalgunj, and Aloft and Marriott Hotel in Kathmandu—bringing the total number of hotels in the five-star category to 15.