REMOVING HOTELS FROM CHITWAN Setback To Conservation Tourism

A recent government decision to remove hotels from inside the Chitwan National Park is a likely to cause a major setback to Nepal’s conservation tourism<br>DEBESH ADHIKARI

Aug. 13, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No.-06 Aug. 10-2012 (Shrawan 26,2069)<br>

Basant Raj Mishra, managing director of the Temple Tiger Jungle Lodge, along with many other hoteliers have received severe setback in their efforts towards conservation by government’s decision to not renew the lease agreements of their hotels.

For decades, they have spent their resources and learned skills to manage conservation tourism. However, entrepreneurs like Mishra’s expertise on conservation is finally made irrelevant by the government decision.

Government’s decision to not renew the lease agreement of hotels inside Chitwan National park has received all-round criticisms. But as the government holds firm on its decision, the long established conservative tourism culture by the hotels inside the park has come to a premature end.

Hotels were established inside the park some half a century ago and after the hotels came into existence poaching of wild animals was largely reduced, but the government has failed to recognize the contributions made by these hotels.

“Animal poaching has been reduced to a large extent due to contribution of the hotels inside the park,” said Mishra.

Not only in animal poaching, hotels inside the parks also promoted Nepal for conservative tourism. “We are also contributing largely toward conservation and doing everything that we can do for conservation of the park,” said Mishra.

Tourism has been nearly the only industry that has been thriving in Nepal in these uncertain times but this open attack on hotels inside the park by government has raised serious questions about government’s attitude towards tourism and development. It has sent a wrong message to everyone inside and outside the country, according to a tourism expert.

Out of the seven hotels inside the national park, six were still in operation. Along with Temple tiger other hotels that were forced to shut down include Tiger Tops, Narayani Safari, Chitwan Jungle Lodge, Machan Wildlife Resort and Island Jungle Resort.

Government cannot prove that we have distorted the environment of the park; other countries have taken our example while constructing hotels inside parks but our own government has failed to acknowledge this fact, said an hotelier who was operating business inside the park. 

According to HAN, the closure of the hotels and resorts would mean loss of investments worth NRs 2 billion and the jobs of 3,000 people and annual tax loss of some NRs 200 million for the government.

Numbers Increase

Tourist arrivals, on the other hand, have increased in July by 9.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Some 38,543 tourists visited Nepal in July from airways. The total tourist arrival number has reached to 332,472 in the first seven months of 2012 which is 18.5 percent higher compared to the same period last year, according to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Tourist arrivals from India and China again showed healthy rise as Nepal continues to depend on its neighbors for tourists. Some 15,000 Indian tourists visited Nepal in July, an increase of 27.1 percent. While tourists arrivals from China increased by 27.2 percent. Arrivals from the South Asian region registered an overall growth of 18.3 percent.

The number of visitors from Asia (other than South Asia) recorded a growth of 8.5 percent in July with Japan 28.4 percent and Malaysia 19.4 percent. However, arrivals from Singapore, South Korea and Thailand registered negative growths of 23.2 percent, 9.1 percent and 58 percent respectively.

The number of tourists from the European and American countries showed small growths.  

Despite the increase in number of tourists, revenue has not been able to increase simultaneously, complain tourism entrepreneurs.

A total of 43,969 foreign tourists departed from TIA in July 2012.

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