Aug 26, 2018-Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has not been able to pass its proposed annual budget of Rs1.25 billion for this fiscal year following controversy over the removal of three board members at the country’s tourism promotional body.
In early July, the incumbent government had revoked all political appointments made by the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government after August 30 last year. With the decision, the legitimacy of three NTB’s board members—Deepak Mahat, Krishna Mahara and Abdesh Kumar Das—also ended.
However, the board members filed a writ at the court against the government’s decision. The court issued an interim order in their favour. They were appointed by the then Tourism Minister Jitendra Narayan Dev. The NTB’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the government and the private sector besides the CEO.
To pass the budget, it requires a decision from majority of the board. “We are expecting that the issue will be resolved by next week and that the NTB board will be able to pass the annual financial plan,” said Deepak Joshi, chief executive officer of NTB. 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 carryout promotional activities in China and India, said Joshi.
According to him, from this fiscal year, the board will carry out promotional activities targeting off season-mainly monsoon and winter as arrivals are relatively low during this period. “Our focus in monsoon will be tourists from the Indian and Middle east market, while in winter, we will look into the Chinese market,” he said.
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 the third version of the Visit Nepal Year 2020 which envisages hosting two million visitors, the NTB is yet to earmark a budget for its promotion. According to Joshi, they have been deciding on the budget which would be spent on bringing hundreds of tour operators and media to Nepal from across the world.
“The board will decide on the size of the budget for the promotion of visit Nepal year.”
The NTB’s revenue comes from the 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 the TIA.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, up 18 percent as compared to the same period last year, according to NTB.
Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, largely due to a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK.
The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons.
The growth in the numbers has been particularly attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.
The statistics show that 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport in July, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year. After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.