KATHMANDU, June 4: Metropolitan Tourist Information Center has been inaugurated at the capital's tourist hub Thamel, in preparation for Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020. The center has been established under the joint aegis of Nepal Tourism Board, VNY Secretariat, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City Ward 26.
"Ninety percent of the tourists coming to Nepal visit Thamel. So, the information center has been established here,” said Shailesh Thapa Chhetri, deputy inspector general (DIG) of Nepal Police during the inaugural ceremony.
The center will provide relevant information to tourists. It also has a guest computer room where tourists can use computer and internet in case of urgency.
Speaking on the occasion, Dhundi Raj Ghimire, director general of Department of Tourism said: "We will be allocating budget to build public toilets in Thamel as soon as the next fiscal year begins." Despite being a tourist hub, there is no public toilet in Thamel.
At present, there are forty CCTV cameras installed around Thamel, which are monitored by Thamel Tourism Development Council.
"From now on, the activities in the cameras will be monitored from the Tourist Information Center. We are also studying about the area and planning to add more cameras and also install lights at various points," said Amrit Singh Basnet, inspector of Tourist Police.
DIG Thapa said that promoting tourism was not just about hiring additional human resources but also about developing positive behavior among people and promoting use of technology. "Hiring and mobilizing more police is not the priority for 2020. We want to promote use of technology, and we are also looking to create positive behavior among people," Chhetri added. "Only hiring human resources is a costly measure. We need automation in various sectors.”
Representatives from Thamel Tourism Development Council said that even store and hotel owners of Thamel do not have clear idea about what exactly do the tourist police do. With the opening of the information center, local also will be better informed, they said. The presence of the information center will also control the activities of street vendors and middlemen who trouble the tourists, they said, adding that it was a much needed facility in view of the upcoming Visit Nepal Year.
TOURIST POLICE APP LAUNCHED
Keeping in view the security issues of tourists arriving in 2020, tourist police mobile application has also been launched Wednesday.
The app has features like reporting complaints, calling helpline and nearby police station, and making incident alerts, among others. It also has features to mark oneself safe during a crisis situation and to view complaint history.
"Through this app, we can quickly connect with the tourists," said Basnet. "The app will help us provide better security to them."
He said that a notice about the app will be circulated to all foreign embassies.
For the time being, the app works on android phones only. "We are working on different features, and planning to launch the app for iOS platforms in about two months," Basnet said.