NTB passes Rs1.12b budget to revive crippled tourism

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 11, 2016-

A record budget of Rs1.12 billion has been approved for the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) for fiscal 2016-17 to allow it to rev up promotional activities and revive the country’s tourism industry which was knocked to the ground by last year’s twin disasters. 

A meeting of its board of directors chaired by Tourism Secretary Prem Rai okayed the massive financial plan last Thursday. NTB officials said the budget had been approved in a timely manner this year after eight years of haphazard planning.  

The NTB said that of the total amount, Rs275 million had been set aside for international publicity and Rs230 million for domestic tourism promotion. Likewise, Rs223 million has been earmarked for tourism marketing, Rs30 million for the promotion of tourism in Pokhara and Rs20 million for research and planning. 

“This year, our key focus will be new markets like Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia and a few Gulf countries,” said CEO Deepak Raj Joshi. “We will target these markets through business-to-business marketing,” he said.

For business-to-consumer marketing, the NTB has allocated around Rs130 million. According to Joshi, Rs90 million will be spent on consumer publicity programmes through the popular global media outlet BBC World. 

Likewise, the NTB has decided to partner with TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, which has 350 million unique monthly visitors. “We will be spending Rs250 million to promote Nepal through the site,” he said. The board has also decided to partner with international news agency Reuters to promote Nepal. It has allocated a budget of Rs8 million for the purpose. Meanwhile, the NTB plans to spend Rs18 million on digital marketing. 

In order to promote Nepal in the key tourism markets of China and India, the board has allocated a budget of Rs125 million. “For consumer publicity, we will be investing Rs50 million in China and India,” said Joshi, adding that another Rs75 million had 

been allocated to conduct travel fairs and sales missions in the northern and southern neighbours. 

Investing in these promotional campaigns is aimed at recovering the country’s tourism by 2017 and preparing for the national Visit Nepal Year campaign in 2018.  The government has announced plans to mark 2018 as Visit Nepal Year. The NTB’s revenue comes from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). It collects a tourism service fee from each foreign traveller departing from TIA. In 2014, the government allowed it 

to double the fee to Rs1,130 from Rs565. 

The NTB earns Rs650 million from the tourism service fee annually. It collects another Rs180 million from TIMS with which all trekkers have to register by paying a fee of up to Rs2,000 each. 

The NTB also has around Rs200 million in unspent budgets from the last fiscal year. The money remained because of multiple problems like the earthquakes and Tarai protests which severely crippled the tourism industry last year.

Tourist arrivals to Nepal plunged to a six-year low of 538,970 in 2015 as the April 25 earthquake and subsequent anti-constitution agitation in the Tarai kept visitors 

away. Nepal received 251,148 less tourists last year, representing a sharp drop of 31.78 percent compared to the 2014 figure.

Published: 11-08-2016 13:50

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