Appointment process for top job at Tourism Board hangs in the balanceAt least half a dozen people in the know told the Post that the appointment had become uncertain.
The top spot at the country's tourism promotional body has remained vacant for a month even as the industry is in the midst of the Visit Nepal campaign.
At least half a dozen people in the know told the Post that the appointment had become uncertain following complaints in Baluwatar that the selection sub-committee had given higher marks to Dhananjay Regmi, who is not a ruling party 'cadre'.
As shown on a copy of the mark sheet of the top five candidates obtained by the Post, Regmi has scored 34 points, Deepak Bastakoti 26.3, Hikmat Singh Ayer 26.1, Deepak Raj Joshi 25.2 and Kashi Raj Bhandari 24 points.
The marks were given by three members of the CEO selection sub-committee and two members—former tourism secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota and tourism entrepreneur Sagar Pandey—who were appointed as invitee experts. Each member was allowed to award a maximum score of 10 points.
“We have selected the best candidate and sent his name to the board to be appointed to the post,” said a board member who asked not to be named as the issue had been
politicised. “If the tourism sector suffers, the private sector will suffer. So we have to be wise to select the proper man.”
A three-member CEO selection sub-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 the incumbent Joshi’s four-year term ended on December 24.
“The score given to Regmi is a clear indication that the board will not be able to select the second candidate,” he said. “And we don’t think the board will change our decision.”
As the process of appointing the CEO was halted abruptly on Sunday, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, proprietor of the Hotel Devotee in Dhangadhi who also sits on the board and was a member of the CEO selection sub-committee, has accused Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari of trampling on their intention to choose a 'good man' to lead the country’s tourism promotional body.
Mahara posted on his Facebook page that the board meeting had been halted frequently without discussion. “It’s my direct challenge that your [Adhikari] intention will not be fulfilled.”
Adhikari did not respond to the Post's repeated calls. A government source said that the issue had become complicated as the four parties—tourism secretary, tourism minister, the board members representing the private sector and Baluwatar—were facing four different directions.
“This shows that the appointment process has landed in a state of uncertainty.”
On Sunday, a meeting of the board of directors of the Nepal Tourism Board was abruptly cancelled due to 'power play'. The meeting had been called 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 overseas markets.
The board meeting was again postponed on Monday.
In the first week of December, the Nepal Tourism Board had extended Joshi’s term by three months in an attempt to prevent a setback for tourism on the eve of the much-hyped Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. Joshi, however, did not accept the offer and applied in a bid to serve a second full term.
The vacancy announcement was published by the selection sub-committee on December 4.
The Nepal Tourism Board’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the the government and the private sector, besides the CEO.