Govt should recognize tourism as a national priority industry : Shrestha
The government recently enforced a new set of criteria for hotels and resorts by making amendments to the Hotel, Lodge, Restaurant, Bar and Tourist Guide Regulation 1981.
Republica talked to Madhav Om Shrestha, executive director of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) - the apex of body of hotels in the country - to know about the implementation of the new criteria and the challenges that the hotel industry has been facing. Excerpts:
As per the new criteria, hotels should now have modern amenities. They are also required to adopt certain environment friendly measures. Is it possible for existing hotels to fulfill the new requirements?
Shrestha: HAN had been demanding that the government make amendments to the regulation taking into consideration the advancements in global hospitality industry. It is not difficult to follow the new criteria as the government has given hotels five years to abide by the new regulations. However, for the new hotels it may be difficult but not impossible. Providing new facilities, embracing latest technology as well as adopting eco-friendly measures are not a difficult task. They are necessary for the development of tourism industry.
The new amendments do not address the demand for apartment hotels. It is often said that HAN is against the concept of apartment hotels in Nepal. Is it true?
HAN is not against the concept of apartment hotels. However, it is true that we did not recommend any standards for apartment hotels as the concept is relatively new in Nepal. The concept came to the fore with the rise in the number of apartments and high-rise buildings in the country. HAN believes apartment hotels should provide the facility of three-star hotels like in the international market.
New standards for hotels have been put in place. What else is needed for the development of tourism sector?
Besides upgradation in facilities and service as per the new criteria, the government should recognize tourism industry as a national priority industry as announced by the Cabinet in May 2012. It should provide tax exemption in selected areas, subsidy in water and electricity bills, protect investment and make necessary amendments to existing laws to attract more investment in the sector.
In addition to this, shortage of trained manpower is a big problem for hotel industry. Though staff for lower levels can be arranged locally, we recruit managerial level staff from other countries. The government must look into the issue.
You say trained manpower is not available here. But many hospitality colleges have been saying that their products are not getting jobs. Why is this happening?
There are many hospitality colleges in Nepal. But these colleges do not provide advanced level training that produces manpower with expertise. The colleges in Nepal produce only the entry level manpower mostly for the hospitality sector.
What do you think should be done for the development of hotel industry?
For the development of hotels or any industry related to tourism, we need to explore new methods of marketing as overall tourist arrival is decreasing. New packages should be made and promoted in new countries.
Similarly, we need to make our participation in international travel fairs effective and meaningful. Tourism offices should be established at least in China and India - our major markets. Likewise, we need to promote Nepal through different international media and enhance our air accessibility. Furthermore, we also need to bring about reforms in Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).