KATHMANDU, Nepal- The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is taking action against tourism entrepreneurs that are operating the business illegally.
The ministry had initiated the investigation to find such travel and tour operators that are operating but without formally registered to the concerned government agency. The entrepreneurs themselves had long been demanding investigations claiming that there were evasion of tax and misuse of US dollar due to illegally operated tourism business.
According to a ministry official, the ministry is set to raid tour and travels, trekking agencies, rafting operators, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. He revealed that all the entrepreneurs booking tourists through websites without registering at the Office of the Company Registrar, and without affiliation with the Tourism Industry Division will be punished.
“The tourists are facing insecurity while revenues are also lost due to illegally operating entrepreneurs,” he claimed. The ministry has even prepared a list of such entrepreneurs identifying them on the basis of information provided by entrepreneurs and the ministry’s own study.
The tourism entrepreneurs had been claiming that dollar income has decreased due to illegally operated business after the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) decided to increase vigilance stating that income from the sector has not increased despite the rise in arrival of tourists.
The central bank had decided to increase vigilance suspecting that the tourism entrepreneurs were involved in illegal dollar transactions.
NRB had taken the decision as there was not much difference in income from the sector when the tourist arrival was 400,000 and 800,000. There was transaction of around US$ 1.60 million in the trekking sector in 2010 and the amount did not increase much in 2011 and 2012.
“Most of those involved in tourism sector in the country are active in illegal business,” President of the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN) Mahendra Singh Thapa said. He claimed that foreigners themselves have started to bring in groups nowadays. Though there are around 800 trekking entrepreneurs only around 200 of them are active while only around 1,000 restaurants are operated legally with hundreds other running without registration.