NTB Significantly Cuts off Budget to Cope up With COVID Crisis
Kathmandu – With all the touristic activities coming to a halt due to coronavirus pandemic, the budget size of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has shrunk to million. The Board has allocated the budget of around Rs 820 million for the current fiscal year 2020-21 while in the previous year, the annual budget figure would be around Rs two billion. A meeting of the NTB Board of Directors on Monday endorsed the budget focusing on study, research, digital marketing and promotion of domestic tourism.
According to Board CEO Dr Dhananjay Regmi this year the size of the budget was significantly cut off in lack of sufficient resources due to COVID-19 crisis. “We hardly could come with Rs 820 million budget, but it seems challenging to manage resources for it,’’ he said, adding but again new programmes could be announced upon analyzing the situation in the future. Last fiscal year, the Board had brought the budget of Rs 1.63 billion, focusing on the Nepal Visit Year 2020 which has been already suspended owing to the global crisis caused by the virus.
The Board has been facing the lack of source of income with the cessations of all touristic activities and the impact has been reflected in the budget. The arrival of foreign tourists is the main economic source of the Board. This year, no budget has been allocated for touristic infrastructure development. It gives an emphasis on the promotion of short-route major touristic markets in India and China with the concept of the digital market, according to Dr Regmi.
“However, despite a smaller in size compared to the previous year, the fresh budget aims to achieve more and is progressive as well,” claimed Dr Regmi. It is expected to be helpful in reviving the post-COVID crisis-tourism industry. The findings of a recent study conducted by the NTB show that country’s tourism and aviation sectors lost Rs 37 billion during the four-month-long coronavirus lockdown.
A large score of workers and employees associated with these sectors became jobless. NTB Board of Directors member and budget committee coordinator Awadhesh Kumar Das also said the budget for the current fiscal year was largely slashed because of the impact of COVID-19 and limited cash stock. The main financial source of the Board is the amount received from the tourism service fee (TSF) charged from tourists.
These two income sources have been affected as tourists have now stopped arriving in Nepal for visit due to coronavirus pandemic. Das shared that the budget has been prepared being economical at a time when there is no resource. Tourism Board has made a projection that there would be an income of around Rs 240 million with an expectation of the arrival of around 200,000 tourists in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Former Executive Officer of Board, Deepak Raj Joshi mentioned that the budget should be implemented in order to disseminate the message that three destinations are safe, incentive programme in tourism service and attraction of Nepal for reviving of the tourism after COVID-19. Joshi shared that it was necessary to move ahead with the strategic plan for the revive of the tourism by reducing possible risk as it is the risk to invest a large amount of investment at tourism sector due to corona.
According to the Board, the budget of other programmes have been curtailed except the significant programme as income of Board has been affected due to coronavirus. The Board has made an arrangement of the budget for the publicity in foreign media like BBC and CNN.
Activities would be carried out for the tourism promotion by using technology as it would not be possible to organize a promotional programme as earlier due to coronavirus. The budget has incorporated the programmes including creating short-term employment for those involved in the tourism sector and lost the job due to COVID-19. A total of 1.197 million tourists had visited Nepal in 2019.
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