NRA floats proposal to convert ancient palaces into hotels

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Sep 5, 2017-The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has initiated a discussion over the possibility of operating ancient palaces in Kathmandu as hotels under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. 

An NRA executive committee meeting has formed a panel to explore the possibilities in this regard based on the outcome of the discussion. 

According to NRA Secretary Sarbajit Prasad Mahato, the panel has been mandated to conduct a study and make necessary recommendations within this week. 

“Things will move forward based on the study,” Mahato said, adding that the initiative would help boost tourism and have a positive impact on the country’s economy. The study committee will recommend ancient properties based on their location and other features and possibilities of renovation for commercial use without having any impact on their aesthetics.

In several countries, including in neighbouring India, ancient palaces have been used as boutique hotels and are among the most sought after properties. The NRA plans to retrofit such old structures built in the Shah and Rana era. The move is also expected to help in efficient maintenance of such ancient structures. Apart from a few ancient buildings, which are home to popular hotels like Yak & Yeti, Hotel Shanker and a dining facility in Babar Mahal Revisited, most of the other edifices of that era have occupied been by government offices and are in sorry state.

International trends suggest hotels running such ancient palaces charge premium despite offering normal facilities. “People will get to be a part of history. Running them as hotels would go a long way in the preservation of such properties,” said NRA Spokesman Yam Lal Bhusal. 

If things pan out well, the NRA will push the proposal to the Cabinet for an endorsement. “A number of factors need to be considered before moving ahead with this one. We will be in a position to table the proposal at a Cabinet meeting sometime in October, right after the Dashain festival,” Mahato said. 

The NRA, meanwhile, has started a process of hiring consultant to mobilise the $750 million line of credit extended by India to aid Nepal’s post earthquake recovery efforts. The amount will most likely be used in infrastructure projects, including reconstruction of schools, colleges and heritage sites, the authority said, adding that another Indian aid of $250 million will be used for rebuilding 50,000 private homes, among other projects.

Published: 05-09-2017 07:36

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