Tourism enterpreneurs stands against additional tax in Khumbu region

6th Oct, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, Oct 06: The Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has organized a conference between various tourism business associations at the Nepal Tourism Board at Bhrikutimandap. The conference was held in order to discuss the recent move by Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Municipality to begin collecting its own tourism fee of Rs. 2000 from foreign tourists.

The decision was criticized by tourism businesses as being harmful to the flow of tourists in the region, since it would increase the total charge for tourists to more than Rs. 7000. The effects are said to be even more harmful as Khumbu is a part of major himalayan trekking routes.

 The coordinator of the Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) Department of TAAN, Taranath Lamichhane claims foul play on part of the Pasang Lhamu Lamichhane, saying that representatives from the municipality started charging its fees during the tourism season while avoiding advances from TAAN and NTB to formally discuss the matter. The TIMS system is one of two pre-existing fees for trekking tourists in Nepal which is used to keep record of any trekkers in Nepal at a given time and to provide for the security and emergency rescue operations of these tourists.

 The two associations were trying to discuss terms with the municipality by which the exisiting system of tourist charges could be gradually merged with a new one by which the fees could be divided to the municipality as well as exisiting funds.

Basanta Basnet, legal consultant of TAAN, spoke during the event of about the legal foundations of the TIMS fee. According to him, TAAN and NTB have the legal right to charge various service charges to tourists under Article 7 of the Tourism Act 2065. The Board's right to charge fees to tourists had already been secured previously through the ministers' cabinet in 2064, after the cabinet signed an MoU with the Tourism Board to that effect.

Basnet says that in order for the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Municipality to introduce a new system of tourism fees, the existing laws formulated by the legistative parliament have to be amended or dissolved.

 Ex-president of TAAN, Deepak Mahat, spoke on the occasion calling for a unity amongst the various tourism businesses. He complained of various red-tape difficulties whilst regulating the trekking activities lack of supportive action from the tourism ministry during his time, saying that the various different tourism business associations should not be quick to being each other down but rather should stand together for greater lobbying power amongst the government in changing political scenarios.

Mahat also pointed out contradictions present in the current constitution of Nepal, in which both the state government and the local government have vaguely been assigned rights to "tourism fees". According to him, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Municipality has unethically encroached upon the tourism sector's systems by misusing the loopholes and vague wordings of these articles of the constitution.

Some other prominent speakers during the conference were the president of the Union of Trekking Travels Rafting Workers Nepal (UNITRAV) Suman Parajuli, ex-president of TAAN Jyoti Adhikari, ex-secretary of TAAN Nawaraj Dahal, General Secretary of Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA), General Secretary of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), etc.

The event was concluded with words from the Board Director of NTB Krishna kumar Aryal, who urged the various heads of organizations present to work towards solving the issue with humility and understanding. He also requested that there should be an aim towards following the rule of law, and solving the issue systematically rather than through coercion.