Resorts inside CNP to operate at least till mid-December
KATHMANDU, July 13: Although the lease agreement with hotels inside the Chitwan National Park (CNP) expires on Sunday, the government is still indecisive over the fate of the resorts.
As per an agreement with the government, the hoteliers will still get five more months to relocate the hotels if the lease agreement is not renewed.
Nabin Kumar Ghimire, Secretary at Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation said, “We have not decided on anything over the issue.” Ghimire said even if the government decides not to renew the agreement, the hotels inside CNP can continue operation till mid-December, 2012.
Following the instruction of the government to relocate the hotels by mid-July, 2012, hoteliers had sought period of 5-6 months to move their belongings. “Since the deadline coincided with monsoon, we sought additional time for the relocation in case the agreement was not renewed,” General Manager of Tiger Tops Yadav Bantawa said. Bantawa, however expressed the hope on renewal of agreement stating that the government officials were positive and the private sector was also supporting them.
According to an official of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), secretary of both ministries would hold talk soon to decide on the issue. The tourism ministry which was initially positive on the demand of entrepreneurs has however, remained neutral. Dr. Ganesh Raj Joshi, secretary at MoCTCA opined that the ministry does not have any opinion on the issue so far.
“The matter falls more into the jurisdiction of Forest Ministry than ours,” Joshi told Republica. The official at the ministry said the proposal requesting Forest Ministry for renewal has not been forwarded from the desk of secretary.
While the indecisiveness of the government continues, entrepreneurs are divided. The umbrella organization of entrepreneurs Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) along with Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) has been lobbying for the renewal of the agreement.
They argue that shutting down the hotels would discourage foreign investment and spread bad message amongst tourist as well. HAN President Shyam Sundar Lal Kakshpati said, “ The hoteliers have invested well above Rs 2 billion and shutting down of such huge investment will yield negative result in tourism industry.”
Sauraha based hoteliers on the other hand are requesting the government to instruct its decision of the relocation. Owner of the Sauraha based hotel Keshab Pandey said, “The operation of the hotel is degrading the ecology of the park.” He said that since the hotels were catering to more than 75 percent of the total tourist arrivals of Chitwan, the tourism of Chitwan should not be associated with six resorts inside the park.
The local hoteliers have also formed a nine-member struggle committee to pressure the government to remain firm in its decision. “The extension was given stating that it was for the final time, so there is no point to renew the license further,” Pandey said.