Nepal casinos in Pokhara have started to close operations after the government in Kathmandu increased their royalty fee by 100 percent.
“Closure of casinos will affect tourist flow as they have remained one of the attractions for tourists visiting Pokhara,” Hari Sharma, president of Paschimanchal Hotel Association, said.
Casino Pokhara Grande, which started operation five years ago, shut operations on Tuesday after the government doubled the royalty fee.
Sharma said that the decision to increase royalty fee in the name of barring the entry of Nepalis in casinos has made it difficult for casino operators to sustain their business.
According to entrepreneurs, around 70,000 tourists come to Nepal to play in casinos. Around 20 percent of them visit Pokhara.
Kedar Sharma, president of Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATTA) Regional Chapter, Pokhara, said casino is an essential product for tourism industry. “The government should create an environment for entrepreneurs to do business,” he added.
Tikaram Sapkota, board member of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said closure of casinos will affect tourist flow in Pokhara. “Most of the Indian and Chinese tourists, who are in Pokhara, visit casinos,” he added.
Pokhara Grande Casino is situated in Pokhara Grande Hotel. Another casino in Pokhara, Casino Pokhara, however, is still in operation.