Tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara trade barbs with NTB officials

Published On: June 15, 2023 08:30 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, June 15: Tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara have lodged a formal complaint against the officials of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB)'s Pokhara office, accusing them of failing to fulfill their responsibilities in promoting tourism.

The complaint, filed through the Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), an umbrella organization representing local tourism entrepreneurs, alleges that the NTB officials in Pokhara have not adequately contributed to tourism promotion, failed to provide agreed-upon funds, and made disparaging remarks about high-ranking officials. The complaint was filed by 17 individuals, including representatives from 16 different organizations affiliated with the council, all of them involved in Pokhara's tourism sector, along with the council's chairman.

The entrepreneurs complained that the Pokhara office staff of NTB deliberately hampered its effectiveness, neglected their obligations despite availing themselves of state service and facilities, and withheld payments on various pretexts. 

"While they express a desire to carry out promotional activities, they abruptly halt payments for unjustifiable reasons after the completion of programs," explained Pom Narayan Shrestha, chair of the council. "They say that there are internal conflicts within the board and refuse to cooperate."

Expressing disappointment, Chairman Shrestha voiced concerns about the inactivity of the Pokhara office staff of the NTB this year. He lamented that despite receiving salaries, the employees have failed to carry out their duties effectively. Furthermore, he highlighted the issue of delayed payments to commercial organizations with whom the board has entered into agreements for tourism promotion programs. This delay has adversely affected various commercial organizations relying on timely payments.

President Shrestha also revealed that the allocated budget for tourism promotion has been suspended by the employees. The hotel association, for instance, has not received any payments for organizing the Fewa New Year festival, while the promotion program scheduled to take place in Bangladesh, organized by the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), has been canceled. Shrestha emphasized that entrepreneurs cannot solely bear the burden of funding promotional activities and, as the responsible body for tourism promotion, the board should provide the necessary support.

Similarly, Laxman Subedi, president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) Pokhara, also said that Pokhara's tourism sector has been hit by internal strife within the board. “Internal disputes between board employees are raging. There is a scuffle between the board of directors and the staff. There is a tendency to bully each other," said Subedi adding, "We as tourism entrepreneurs have been hit by that."

Subedi revealed that NTB Pokhara had agreed to provide Rs 500,000 to HAN for organizing the Fewa New Year festival during the Nepali New Year celebration. Regrettably, the promised amount was not disbursed, leading to the cancellation of additional planned programs. Subedi expressed disappointment over this situation.

Meanwhile, Kashiraj Bhandari, the director of NTB's Pokhara office, refuted the allegations made by tourism entrepreneurs, asserting that they are merely blaming the board employees due to delay in payments caused by the absence of an accountant. Bhandari explained that the office currently lacks an accountant, which hampers the accounting process. He further stated that the new accountant has not been appointed yet after the previous accountants quit the office. Bhandari emphasized that the blame has been unjustly placed on the employees.

The NTB officials also complained that instead of working to solve the issues related to tourism, there has been a conspiracy to provoke tourism entrepreneurs from within the board. 

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