'Scrap provision to pay restricted-area permit fee in US dollar'

Published On: May 16, 2018 09:28 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

Department of Immigration assures matter will be resolved soon

POKHARA, May 16: Tourism entrepreneurs have urged the government to review its rule of collecting restricted area permit fee from trekkers in US dollar.

Entrepreneurs say that such mandatory provision on entrance fee has created inconveniences to tourists visiting such areas. They have demanded that the government scrap such provision immediately. They also said that such faulty provision was forcing entrepreneurs to buy US dollar illegally when they face shortage of the US currency.

“Sometimes we have to buy US dollar at high price just to get permits. Tourists prefer to use their credit card to pay us here, but we have to pay in US dollar to get permits,” Dipak Raj Adhikari, president of Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) Western Regional Association. 
Speaking at an interaction organized by the Department of Immigration, Adhikari said that most of the tourists do not carry US dollar in their pocket. 

“In this era of digitalization, they prefer to use banking service for payments,” he said, adding that as trekkers make advance payments months ago, tourism entrepreneurs have to buy US dollars from others to buy permit. 

“This is an impractical provision. I request the Department of Immigration (DoI) of introduce a provision that allows us to pay for permits in equivalent Nepali currency,” he added.

Trekkers need to get a special permit to visit Naar, Phu and Tilche Village of Manang as well as Lo Manthang, Charang, Chhoser, Surkhang, Ghami, Chhusang and Kagbeni in Mustang district.
According to DoI's office in Pokhara, trekkers have to pay US$ 75 per person per week from December to August and $90 per person per from September to November to enter these restricted areas of Manang. After a week, they have to pay $7 per day.

Similarly, entry fee for Upper Mustang is $500 per person for 10 days, and $50 per person per extra day.

Around 5,000 trekkers visits these restricted areas every year, according to DoI.

Ram Chandra Sharma, past president of TAAN Western Regional Association, said that his association has been requesting the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to review this provision,” said Ram Chandra Sharma, former president of the association.

Responding to the demand placed by entrepreneurs, Dipak Kafle, director general of DoI, assured to sort out the problem at the earliest. “Even I was not aware about this provision,” he said, adding: “I would like to assure you that we will review the provision immediately.”

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