KATHMANDU, June 1: The government has slashed the budget for tourism sector by 51% to Rs 2.68 billion for the next fiscal year. The budget cut may hit the priority sector, including the ambitious plan of doubling the inflow of foreign tourists in the next fiscal year.
Officials of the Tourism Ministry were yet to get updated information on the decreased budget.
The budget cut comes at a time when the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, announced by the government, is nearing. According to a source, the government has set aside Rs 50 million for Visit Nepal Year 2020. Most of the infrastructure work has already been completed for the campaign, according to the source.
On May 29, Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada announced that a total budget of Rs 2.68 billion was allocated for infrastructure development of tourism sector for the Fiscal Year 2019/20.
“We are not sure whether the budget has been decreased or not, because last year allocation was made for each of the provincial and local levels. We are yet to discuss it with the Ministry of Finance,” said Ghanashyam Upadhyaya, spokesperson of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
The government had allocated total budget of Rs 5.2 billion for the current Fiscal Year 2018/19.
For the current fiscal year, the government’s major allocation is for tourism infrastructure development plan, which is Rs 880.39 million. Likewise, it has allocated Rs 400.60 million for South Asian Tourism Infrastructure Development Project, Rs 570.71 million for Lumbini Development Trust, Rs 340.87 million for Pashupati Area Development Trust, and 280.94 million for archaeological conservation.
For the next fiscal year, Minister Khatiwada has announced that the government will focus on rapid infrastructure development of the identified touristic destinations and will also identify and promote new destination for Visit Nepal Year 2020.
He also announced that the government will focus on Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) tourism as its long-term plan for tourism. Visit Nepal Year 2020 has been chosen as tourism year of Nepal, and the government has a target to bring in two million tourists in the year.