Appointment of CEO to tourism board postponed after “power play” among aspirantsThree candidates have been shortlisted but concerns about the top candidate’s loyalty from Baluwatar put a halt to the process, according to sources.
A meeting of the board of directors of the Nepal Tourism Board scheduled for Sunday evening was abruptly cancelled due to a “power play”, said sources familiar with developments. The meeting was going to appoint the chief of the country’s tourism promotional body.
The chief executive officer of the tourism board, which has an annual budget of more than Rs1 billion, is one of the most lucrative posts in the country due to the nature of its operations to promote Nepal in the overseas markets.
The board meeting, chaired by Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, was scheduled for 4:30pm on Sunday and the new CEO was expected to be announced by 6pm.
Multiple officials the Post spoke to said that the chief executive officer selection sub-committee had shortlisted three candidates on Sunday morning.
The sub-committee, however, has not officially unveiled the shortlisted candidates. Names that were doing the rounds in political and bureaucratic circles were Dhananjay Regmi, Deepak Bastakoti and Hikmat Singh Ayer. A member of the selection sub-committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed the three names to the Post. Former chief executive officer Deepak Raj Joshi did not make it to the shortlist.
After the names are recommended, the board of directors picks one as chief executive officer.
“In Baluwatar, many were complaining that Regmi, who has been given top scores, is not ‘our man’,” said an official, who also did not wish to be named. “The board meeting has been postponed until 4:15pm Monday.”
A three-member CEO selection committee led by Biplab Paudel, executive director of Pokhara’s Hotel Barahi, who also sits on the board of directors of the Nepal Tourism Board representing the private sector, had been entrusted with the task of recommending the new CEO after Joshi’s four-year term ended on December 24.
In the first week of December, the Nepal Tourism Board extended Joshi’s term by another three months in an attempt to prevent a setback for tourism in the country on the eve of the much-hyped Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. Joshi, however, did not accept the offer and reapplied for the CEO post.
The vacancy announcement was published by the selection sub-committee on December 4.
Members of the sub-committee include Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, joint secretary at the Tourism Ministry, and Krishna Bahadur Mahara, proprietor of the Hotel Devotee in Dhangadhi who sits on the board also representing the private sector.
The Nepal Tourism Board’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the government and the private sector, besides the CEO.
Adhikari, however, told the Post that they were unable to pick the CEO due to a tight schedule.
“The Nepal Tourism Board will get its chief on Monday,” he said.