Tourism stakeholders may be disappointed

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KATHMANDU, MAY 27

Stakeholders of tourism industry — one of the hardest hit sectors due to the coronavirus pandemic — that are expecting to have their demands addressed through the budget may be in for a huge disappointment. The line ministry has said that the fiscal budget 2020-21 that is to be unveiled tomorrow will be along the lines of government’s policies and programmes that was announced on May 15.

“We’ve prepared our programmes for next fiscal after studying the impact of COV- ID-19 and almost all of them were mentioned in the policies and programmes, so the budget won’t have anything extra,” said Rudra Singh Tamang, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).

He, however, assured that the ministry will bring programmes to recover the losses due to COVID-19 on the tourism industry.

Meanwhile, the ministry has said that the budget allocated for next fiscal will be mobilised primarily for infrastructure development.

“Completion of ongoing airport projects and feasibility studies for construction of new airports will be prioritised.”

Ministry of Finance has set budget ceiling of Rs 33 billion for MoCTCA for next fiscal against Rs 25.44 billion allocated in the current fiscal.

Although the ministry had announced the work of transforming Tribhuvan International Airport into a boutique airport by January 1, the completion deadline has been pushed back and it is now hoping to complete the work within this year.

Similar to the current fiscal, the ministry will be allocating budget for completing construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) and Pokhara International Airport (PIA) next fiscal, Tamang said. It has to be noted that the government had aimed to complete GBIA by March this year, but that deadline has also been missed already.

“We also aim to start the construction of Nijgadh International Airport in the next fiscal,” he said. “Along with that budget will be mobilised for the renovation of domestic airports as well.”

For the next fiscal year, the ministry has again taken forth its plan to build a domestic airport in Kavrepalanchowk.

The plan was first introduced by late tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari, but has so far failed to materialise following widespread public criticism.

MoCTCA is also mulling over conducting feasibility study of building an airport at Chuhandanda, Terhathum.

The ministry is also mobilising budget for construction of hill stations and hotels and resorts with full tourist facilities, he said.

“The budget will also promote agro tourism in collaboration with tourist standard hotels and resorts,” he said, “This will help produce and promote organic products.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 28, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.


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