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50th Anniversary for Peace Climb
Spring 2005
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Hoteliers press for tourism revival
around 25 percent of local businessmen and 40 percent of the skilled workforce have left for better job opportunities abroad over the past three years.
According to data released by the Hotel Association of Nepal – Pokhara Chapter, Pokhara has seen a decline of 42 percent in annual tourist numbers since 1999.Meanwhile, local hotel entrepreneurs have accused the government of being partial when distributing relief grants to sick tourism enterprises. They have also underscored the need to formulate a rejuvenation program to upgrade tourism services outside the Valley.

"Tourism in Pokhara is suffering more heavily than that in the Valley, but we are given a much smaller chunk of the government relief grant than entrepreneurs in the Valley," says Sonam Songpok, President of the Hotel Association of Nepal - Pokhara Chapter.

Despite the Association’s request for grants to 27 hotels, just six have been helped so far, according to Sogpok.Songpok further says that the government, besides providing a more generous proportion of the relief grant to the tourism sector in Pokhara, should subsidize electricity and telephone bills and bank interest incurred by the sick industries.

To ease the situation, Rastra Bank is providing a loan to Banijya Bank on 2 percent interest, which is being used to subsidize 5.5 percent of the interest on loans to the tourism sector. "Though the loan scheme is laudable, we are unable to take advantage of the scheme since the entrepreneurs in the Valley are given preference.

Frequent strikes, endemic insecurity, and incidents like attacks on internationally renowned hotels by Maoist rebels are some of the principal causes for the decline hitting this tourist hub.

"The fragile security situation in outlying parts ensures that tourists prefer to stay in Kathmandu," says Sundar Kumar Sherstha, another hotelier.

Following the decline in the tourism sector, even 5 star hotels have reduced their tariffs by 30 to 50 percent. "Under present conditions, the hotels have no option but to shut down," states Hari Prasad Gurung, President of the HAN, Pokhara Chapter. "At least 27 to 35 percent occupancy is needed to run a business," he says.

According to a report, a total of 13,714 tourists entered Pokhara by bus, 11,671 by plane and 6,000 by different means over the first four months of this year.

(Source : The Kathmandu Post)


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