Since Nepalís longstanding political transition has continued with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA), the countryís economic sector as a whole is now in a challenging situation. It is natural that the emergence of such an unexpected political scenario has put industrialists, traders and tourism entrepreneurs in a state of dilemma, as they had hoped for peace and stability in the country with the promulgation of the new constitution. It needs no mention that the tourism industry, being a sensitive sector, suffers most when the country passes through any political disturbance.
A lot of international tourists had either cancelled or cut short their trips to Nepal because of a series of strikes and bandhs organised by various political and ethnic groups. Tourism entrepreneurs still fear that the present political turmoil could affect tourism even in autumn, which is an important tourist season in the country.
In this connection, the hotel industry has requested the Government of Nepal to offer different facilities and incentives to it through its budget for the next fiscal year and enforce them right away as per the cabinetís recent decision. Considering the vital contribution being played by the multi-faceted tourism sector in the national economy, the government has taken a decision to recognise this industry as a national priority industry. The whole tourism industry has heartily welcomed this step and hopes that the governmentís additional facilities and incentives would help it to sustain. The government has endorsed the recommendations made by a high-level tourism task force coordinated by Secretary at the Prime Ministerís Office Lilamani Paudel.
The recommendations include offering electricity facilities to hotels as enjoyed by the industrial sector, reduction in the value added tax (VAT) and incentives in the import of tourist vehicles, among others.
Like any other sector, the tourism industry has suffered greatly from frequent fuel shortages, labour-related problems, strikes and environmental degradation. This sector is also bearing the brunt of the deteriorating condition of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), the national carrier, and the lack of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). The tourism industry itself has felt that the national tourism organisation (NTO) has nearly turned passive in the absence of its captain. Against this backdrop, the government needs to announce more facilities and incentives through its upcoming budget for the countryís gradually growing tourism industry. The government should also identify other obstacles facing the tourism sector and tackle them prudently. The tourism industry could get a boost only when the government and the private sector move ahead hand in hand. Tourism is undoubtedly the most viable sector for us to generate more jobs and foreign currency without making much investment.