KATHMANDU, Nepal – The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has once again started an investigation into illegally operated tour and travel agencies in the country.
However, people from the tour and travel industry have said that the government needs to act more firmly as this is not the first time that the government is carrying out such an investigation.
Earlier, MoCTCA had published a notice for illegal tour, travel and hotel operators to either register their firms or stop operations. However, due to the gap in proper investigation and monitoring, illegal operations are still going on, claimed the tour and travel operators.
According to Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), the Tourism Industry Division during its investigation of 62 agencies had found around 12 travel agencies to be operating illegally, but the number of illegally operated travel agencies is higher and should be scanned effectively.
“There must be healthy competition, therefore, the government should cooperate with us to develop an ethical environment for a healthy business climate,” said chief executive officer at NATTA Dr Hari Sarmah.
According to statistics of the Tourism Industry Division, there are more than 2000 registered tour and travel agencies and among them more than 500 agencies are registered at NATTA. “We have more than 500 government registered agencies as members,” he said.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of MoCTCA Mohan Krishna Sapkota said that the ministry conducts an investigation annually to check and control illegal operation of tour and travel agencies. According to him, the ministry will levy a fine of Rs 20,000 on illegal agencies and if it is a severe case then the ministry might also seize the licence of illegal operators.
A year back, the tourism ministry had formed a committee, which had representatives from the Tourism Industry Division, Tourist Police and NATTA for the check and control programme.
On March 30, 2012, the division had directed tourism entrepreneurs to renew their operating licences and those running tourism businesses illegally to get their businesses registered on time, however, the operators turned a deaf ear to the government notice, said officials at the division.
The notice issued by MoCTCA had stated that if tourism businesses fail to renew their licences, the government may scrap their operating licences and had also directed illegal businesses to get registered in accordance to prescribed laws.