NTY preparations border on indifference


ARUN GNAWALI
BHAIRAHAWA: Better late than never. It took a report in The Himalayan Times to spur Tourist Information Office into action. The annoying signboard on Belahiya border, which receives the largest number of tourists by land, has been removed after THT highlighted its sorry state last week.

According to an employee at the office, the signboard was removed and a new one is being prepared after a directive from the authorities in Kathmandu.

“Though it costs just Rs 3,000 to repaint the board, the office did not do so citing budget crunch,” the employee said, adding, “A new board will be installed soon.”

Ironically, the Tourist Information Office, Office of Nepal Tourism Board and Immigration Department are located in Belahiya. And in 2010, 1,02,120 foreign tourists had entered Nepal via Belahiya border. The number does not include Indian tourists. If preparations to woo tourists at the most popular entry point are such, what tourists can expect elsewhere is anyone’s guess. Take for instance Bhairahawa, where Lumbini Area Tourism Development Committee Office is located. Garbage heaps are all around, vehicles are parked haphazardly hitting traffic flow, footpaths are encroached upon by shops. Not what a tourist expects in Nepal Tourism Year.

Regarding the promotional activities, less said, the better. Tourist office head Rajan Rai complained that no budget had been allocated for promotional activities. Sagar Adhikari, assistant coordinator of Lumbini Area Tourism Promotion and Development Committee and chairman of Siddhartha Association of Travel Agents, said due to lack of funds they had failed to carry out promotional activities in border areas of Lumbini.

Lumbini Area Tourism Promotion and Development Committee, formed a year ago to promote Rupandehi, Nawalparasi and Kapilvastu as tourist hubs, has also been dysfunctional for the last seven months owing to lack of budget.

Committee Chairman Devi Prasad Choudhari said despite huge publicity regarding the tourism year nothing much had been done even in a tourist hub like Lumbini.

He stressed on the importance of coordination among local administration, local bodies and entrepreneurs to carry out promotional activities in the border areas.

Pradip Basnet, an officer at local office of Nepal Tourism Board, is, however, positive that things will fall in place now that the budget has been approved. He surely deserves some brownie points!

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One Response

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