Former Visit Nepal secretariat seeks more budget from Tourism Ministry



Even after the government has scrapped the secretariat of the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, the secretariat has submitted more unpaid bills to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).

Addressing a press meet today to unveil the ministry’s work progress during the lockdown, Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said that the secretariat is asking for more budget.

“The secretariat has submitted a few details of their expenses which are worth around Rs 30 million to Rs 40 million. So we are scanning the bills and receipts and will settle them too very soon,”

Bhattarai said. “While the private sector has been recommending the government to utilise the budget of VN campaign to revive tourism sector, the secretariat has sought more money,” he added.

Due to the COVID-19 the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 24 and on March 31 the MoCTCA announced the cancellation of the VN 2020 campaign.

As the tourism industry has been affected very badly among other industries, tourism entrepreneurs have been requesting MoCTCA to use the budget allocated for the campaign. However, the campaign secretariat has stated that the budget allocated for the campaign has already been utilised and the ministry still has to clear more dues.

As per Minister Bhattarai, the secretariat has submitted expense details worth Rs 350 million so far.

As per data compiled by the ministry, the country’s tourism sector has faced losses worth around Rs 34 billion during the lockdown period.

Earlier, the government had estimated that the tourism sector may face losses worth Rs 10 billion per month. As the lockdown period has been extended till July 22, a loss of an additional Rs seven billion has been estimated in this industry, said MoCTCA Spokesperson Rudra Singh Tamang.

“Details of losses in tourism sector has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance and even to the National Planning Commission for the loss assessment,” Tamang added.

As the government is repatriating Nepalis stranded abroad, MoCTCA has arranged hotel quarantine for them. Hoteliers had expected this service to support them to some extent. However, hoteliers have said that most of the repatriated passengers are choosing home quarantine and government’s quarantine service rather than hotel quarantine.

Amid this lockdown period, the government has repatriated 16,672 Nepalis via 214 repatriation flights. Of them only 1,100 passengers are staying in hotel quarantine at the moment.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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