KATHMANDU, June 27: Six hotels inside the Chitwan National Park (CNP) that were asked to move out of the protected area by the end of this fiscal year are likely to get a lifeline.
Sources at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), said they were positive about the hoteliers call for the extension of the deadline, which is ending in mid-July 2012.
The Natural Resources Management Committee of the parliament in 2010 had asked the ministry not to renew their lease contract signed 30 years ago. Though the committee later allowed them to operate till mid-July 2012, referring to the Nepal Tourism Year 2011, it had strictly instructed the ministry to relocate them after mid-July 2012.
But responding to the memorandum of hoteliers, who requested the government to extend the relocation deadline, senior MoCTCA officials said they would soon take necessary steps to renew lease contract of the hotels.
“Being a ministry overseeing the tourism industry, it is our responsibility to assist tourism entrepreneurs and save their investment," said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, joint secretary at the ministry. “We are positive about their demand and will soon request the concerned authorities for the extension of their lease contract.”
Sapkota said the ministry was holding discussions with tourism entrepreneurs and looking a way forward for alternatives.
Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) had recently submitted a memorandum to the ministry and Prime Minister´s Office to review the previous decision so that hotels inside the CNP can continue operation.
Although their contract is expiring in two weeks, owners of hotels inside CNP have not started preparations for relocation. Hoteliers said they are hopeful that their contract will be renewed.
Out of seven hotels inside CNP, six are still in operation. Gaida Wildlife Camp had shut operations about two years ago due to labor issue. The other hotels include Tiger Tops, Safari Narayani, Chitwan Jungle Lodge, Machan Wildlife Resort, Island Jungle Resort and Temple Tiger.
The government had decided against renewing lease contracts of the hotels following mounting pressure from environment activists. Hotels inside CNP are widely blamed for degradation of natural habitat of wild animals as well as the environment inside the park. However, hoteliers claim they have been setting unique example of conservation oriented tourism.
“After the resorts were established, animal poaching has been reduced greatly. We are contributing toward conservation,” Basant Raj Mishra, managing director of Temple Tiger Jungle Lodge, said.