KATHMANDU, July 12: Even though Visit Nepal Year 2020 is coming nearer, the government has not shown any urgency toward constructing a tourist bus park in Kathmandu.
Tourism entrepreneurs have long been calling for a separate bus park for tourist buses. Ever since Visit Nepal Year 2011, Tourist Bus Association of Nepal (TBAN) and Nepal Association of Travel and Tour Agents (NATTA) have been pushing for constructing a tourist bus park in the capital.
"We need proper infrastructure and trained staff to provide good hospitality services to the tourists,” said Prahlad Lohani, president of Tourist Bus Association of Nepal (TBAN). "We are facing problems due to lack of a bus park for tourist buses, which hampers our ability to provide proper transportation services."
Tourist buses used to operate from Kantipath, Kathmandu, in morning hours when there was very little traffic. Last year, this temporary bus stop was moved to Sorhakhutte.
The TBAN has prepared a proposal for constructing tourist bus park at Chaumati in Balaju with a total budget of Rs 50.14 million over a land area of five ropani.
"Last year, we forwarded the proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC)," Lohani added. "But nothing has moved yet."
“The bus stop at Sorhakhutte is just a temporary arrangement. Since 2020 is approaching, we urgently need a bus terminal with proper facilities for tourists,” said CN Pandey, president of NATTA.
Pandey said they hoped the government would provide the land required to construct the bus park before the Visit Nepal Year 2020 commences.
While the private sector is positive about the completion of the bus park by the beginning of 2020, the government does not have any plan to complete it within time.
"We will start the project from mid-August and complete it by the end of 2020," said Ram Thapa, chief of the heritage and tourism department of KMC.
Ghanashyam Upadhdyaya, spokesperson at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said that the ministry was positive about the project. "However, the beginning and completion depends on how the collaboration takes place between all the partners," he said.
The bus park is to be constructed jointly by the KMC, TBAN, NATTA, and the local community development committee of the proposed area.
Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said that after the completion of the bus park, the board would mentor the bus park staff and also mobilize the Tourist Police to ensure safety and security of the area.
Constructing a tourist bus park is expected to not only facilitate transportation services for the tourists, but also to increase business activities in and around the area.
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Sujan Acharya, CEO of New Road Tours and Travels, said that his revenue from tourist buses has dropped to almost half after the bus stop has been shifted.
"The number of free independent travelers (FIT), who come and get tickets on the spot, has been reduced by almost 50 percent after the shift as the area is not convenient for them," he said. "The road is usually occupied by local public buses and other small vehicles."
"Earlier, around 100 independent travelers used to get tickets with us every day. But now the number has reduced to about 50,” he said.
Currently, tourist buses to Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini and Janakpur leave from Sorhakhutte bus stop. The area lacks basic facilities including public toilet.
Hemanta Prasad Rijal, CEO of Citylink Travels, said tourists complain about dusty and muddy roads in Sorhakhutte and other parts of the valley. "On top of the poor road infrastructure, lack of a bus park with minimum acceptable facilities for the tourists has been a major challenge for us," he said.