The government is preparing to introduce a 10-year National Tourism Strategy Plan aiming at diversifying tourism attractions and services.

The plan – that is also aimed at ensuring improved quality of products and human resources – National Tourism Strategy Plan (2014-2023) has prioritised to develop four tourism development areas like Pokhara in central/western region, Kailali in far-western, Ilam in eastern and Karnali in mid-western development regions.

The draft plan has also highlighted need of more investment and business environment like expanding and improving aviation infrastructure, resolving power shortages, reviewing regulations and administrative procedures, reviewing the legal, incentive and procedural aspects to make them attractive for foreign direct investment, building capacity of middle-level human resources, selecting tourism industry as an industrial priority and enhancing local-level participation, apart from addressing political instability.

Lack of cross-sector flights, elevated costs for international passengers, high airline operational costs due to lack of infrastructure and efficient onsite visa system for international visitors at the only international airport are some of the issues the draft plan has stressed to improve.

Likewise, increasing coordination among various associations and government departments is also need of the hour, it said, adding that arrival procedures and visa handling at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) and customer service also need improvement. “More information and training to the human resources are must.”

Also asking to prepare for the transitional plan for the federal structure in the future, the draft has promised to incorporate most of the suggestions forwarded by the stakeholders including Nepal Mountaineering Association.

However, the association, Expedition Operators’ Association and Himalayan Rescue Association claim that they were not consulted while preparing the strategy plan.

“We have asked the government to focus on installation of a ladder near the Hillary Step, similar to the one on the second step on North East Ridge to allow a two-way flow of climbers during summit push and reduction in the time spent on extremely dangerous altitude,” the association said, adding that the draft has, however, not included the suggestion. They have also asked to reinvest 30 per cent of royalty in the same region from where it was collected.

Likewise, Nepali mountaineering staff like sirdars, guides and cooks should not be charged any fee, the association suggested, urging to waive the royalty for Mt Cho-Oyu to mark diamond jubilee of its first ascent this year and for Mt Kanchenjunga and Mt Makalu in 2015, Mt Manaslu and Mt Lhotse in 2016 and Mt Dhaulagiri in 2020.

Related News