In June, Nepal Association of Travel Agents (NATA) and China Tibet Association Travel Agency (TATA) signed a document in Lhasa that declares Kathmandu and Lhasa as sister cities in tourism. Apart from this document, a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between the two sides. The MoU says China Tibet Tourism Bureau and NATA will exchange visits to promote friendship, understanding and common tourism interests as well as facilitate tourists visiting Tibet and Nepal.
The MoU was signed by Mr. Bhola Bikram Thapa, President of NATA; Mr. Zhang Wan Sheng, Director, China Tibet Tourism Bureau; and Mr. Jigme Wangchuk, President, TATA. The chief guest at the signing ceremony was Mr. Yumin Yang, Standing Vice Chairman of the Autonomous Region of Tibet.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government recently declared Nepal an international outbound tourist destination, its ninth, making the Himalayan Kingdom the first such hub in South Asia. The declaration allows Chinese nationals to visit Nepal as tourists, a request the Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) has also been making to the Chinese authorities and tourism associations for years. According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation, the authorities concerned of the two countries will now agree on the modality of Chinese tourists’ visit to Nepal.
Rimal appointed ASTA Chapter President
Mr. Pravin Rimal has been appointed International Chapter President (Nepal) of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). As the Chapter President, he automatically qualifies to be a member of ASTA’s International Chapter Presidents Council.
Mr. Rimal is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Himalayan Odyssey, an adventure and leisure company based in Kathmandu.
Tourism awards for high achievers
On July 7, hotels, airlines and tourism related businesses earning the highest amount of foreign exchange in 1998-99 were awarded by Minister of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation Tarini Datta Chataut amidst a function at the ministry.
Hotels awarded for earning the most foreign exchange were Hotel Yak & Yeti (5-star); The Malla Hotel (4-star); Hotel Royal Singi (3-star); Hotel Sunset View (2-star); Hotel Garuda (1-star); and Dwarika’s Kathmandu Village Hotel (non-star).
Among the travel agencies, the first, second and third prizes were given away to Yeti Travels, Alpine Travel Service and Natraj Tours & Travels respectively. Likewise, Thamserku Trekking, Summit Nepal Trekking and Himalaya Expeditions Incorporated were the first, second and third highest foreign exchange earning trekking companies in that order.
As in the previous year, Royal Nepal Airlines was awarded for bringing in the most number of tourists in 1998-99. Indian Airlines and Thai Airways ranked second and third. Among private airlines in the domestic sector, Buddha Air, Necon Air and Yeti Airlines were awarded for earning the most amount of foreign exchange.
Hotels awarded for providing the most employment were Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza (5-star); Hotel Himalaya (4-star); Summit Hotel (3-star); Hotel Vajra (2-star); Hotel Excelsior (1-star); and Dwarika’s Kathmandu Village Hotel (non-star).
At the function, the minister also gave away certificates of commendation to various tourism-related associations for their active participation in the World Tourism Day 1999. Those awarded included Tourist Service Center, Hotel Association Nepal, Trekking Agents Association of Nepal, Tourist Guide Association of Nepal, Nepal Association of Travel Agents, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Nepal Association of Rafting Agents, Restaurant & Bar Association of Nepal, Thamel Tourism Development Committee, Patan Tourism Development Agency, Durbar Square Tourism Promotion Committee, PATA Nepal Chapter, Taragaon Development Committee, Nepal Academy of Tourism & Hotel Management and Nepal Sports Development Council.
NMA hikes mountaineering fees from 2001
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has decided to hike royalty (climbing fee) for the 18 trekking peaks it administers, effective from 2001. The fees have not been revised since 1978.
A four-member expedition to any of the peaks will cost US$ 350, and an extra US$ 40 for each additional member up to eight members. Previously, a 10-member expedition paid US$ 300 and each additional member an extra US$ 7.50. Each additional member from nine to 12 members pays US$ 25 each.
Last year, NMA gave permission to 786 teams to climb various trekking peaks. While NMA issues permits for the 18 trekking peaks, permits to climb the 135 mountaineering peaks, ranging in height from 6,500 m to the 8,848-m high Everest, are issued by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation.
Royalty payable by mountaineering expeditions range from US$ 1,500 to US$ 10,000 depending on the altitude of the peak. For Everest, the climbing fee is US$ 50,000 for a group of seven members.
MD Publishing marks sixth anniversary
MD Publishing Co., Nepal’s largest travel trade publishing house, celebrated its sixth anniversary amidst a gathering of its management and staff at The Everest Hotel on June 30.
MD Publishing Co. brings out two bi-monthlies – Travellers’ Nepal and Nepal Travel Trade Journal – and Shangri-La, the quarterly in-flight magazine of Royal Nepal Airlines.
MD Publishing Co. is venturing out to publish Himalayan Travel Trade Journal from October that will encompass tourism and travel trade in the Himalayan region of Bhutan, Darjeeling, Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet.
Rajesh Kaji Shrestha, 39, is Chairman of the Nepal Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of the Political Affairs Committee (Public Relations) of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). He is also an executive member of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN).
Mr. Shrestha’s heavy involvement in Nepal’s industry and trade sees him in many highly responsible places. He is the Managing Director of Hotel Rara, director of Alliance Insurance Company Limited and Executive Chairman of Nepal International Business. He is just as much involved in a number of associations. He is the president of Nepal Weight Lifting Association as well as executive member of Nepal-Australia Friendship Society, Nepal-Russia Cultural Association and Nepal-Luxembourg Friendship and Cultural Association.
A graduate in commerce, Mr. Shrestha has undertaken extensive management and leadership trainings as well as participated in a number of global fairs in China, India, Japan, Germany, the USA, Holland and the UK.
For his contribution in the tourism, industry and trade fields, Mr. Shrestha has received various decorations and awards, including Prakhyat Trishakti Patta from His Majesty the King and Udyog Ratna 1999 from the Institute of Economic Studies.
Argentinian motor rally in Nepal
For the first time, a group of 20 Argentinians crossed geographical barriers to hold a motor rally in mountainous Nepal in their four-wheel drives. The 1,000-km rally was initiated by Mr. Flavio Migliavacca and co-ordinated by Mr. Luis Costa of Travelog, a leading Argentinian travel company, and a Nepalese travel agency.
The participants of the rally which began on May 17 from Kathmandu made their first stopover in the mid-western resort city of Pokhara where they overnighted at The Fulbari Resort. The motorists then headed for Tansen where they stayed in comfortable, luxurious camps. The rally continued on to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and Royal Chitwan National Park where they camped at Gaida Wildlife Camp. They also went to Daman, a small hill station which offers stunning views of the Himalaya, before finishing back in Kathmnadu.
The participants were so impressed by their first trip to the Himalayan Kingdom that the organizers plan to hold another rally next year.
Destination promotion campaigns held abroad
“Night in Nepal”, a destination promotion program, was organized at the Royal Nepalese Embassy in the UK by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) on June 19. The program that included an eight-minute multi-media show highlighting Nepal as a travel destination with convention and incentive facilities was attended by about 50 convention/incentive buyers/organizers in the UK and representatives of five local media.
The program was organized in cooperation with the Royal Nepalese Embassy, Nepal Incentive and Convention Association (NICA) and Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways had provided free tickets to all the Nepalese participants who, three days later, also took part in the M & IT Show, Olympia in London. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mohamed Salehi of Qatar Airways said that Nepal needed to be promoted as an all season destination.
Meanwhile, from June 22-26, promotional campaigns were launched in the Indian cities of Patna and Varanasi to mark the start of Necon Air’s scheduled flights to the latter city. Necon’s Managing Director Deepmani Rajbhandari told the meets that the direct flights to the cities would help promote Buddhist tourism as well as ensure greater inflow of religious visitors and third country tourists to Nepal.
Earlier in May, similar tourism promotion campaigns were launched in four other Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangalore in what is the first ever concerted effort to market Nepal as a perfect destination for Indian tourists.
In June-July, a team of journalists from renowned Indian newspapers and magazines from Mumbai and Bangalore and Star TV also visited Nepal on an eight-day fam trip. NTB is planning to open an office in Mumbai shortly.
Nepal Tourism Evening organized in London
On June 20, Friends of Britain and Nepal – Nepalese Tourism Organization (FBNNTO), UK held a tourism evening at Ealing Town Hall, London to promote the Himalayan Kingdom there. About 300 guests that included the Lord Mayor of Ealing and the Nepalese envoy to the UK, HE Dr. Singha Bahadur Basnyat, attended the function. Other guests included tour operators and travel trade journalists.
On the occasion, the second issue of the organization’s travel magazine Kingdom in the Himalayas – Nepal was released which was followed by dinner and dance.
FBNNTO is a non-profit social organization dedicated to introducing, developing and promoting Nepal and the Nepalese tourism industry in the international market, particularly Britain.
San Miguel Music Awards given away
The San Miguel Music Awards were given away to different artists in various categories amidst a gala event at the King Birendra International Convention Center on June 3. The artists were chosen by listeners from among five nominees selected by a panel of judges in each of the categories.
Those who received the awards were: Best female signer (modern) – Sharmila Bardewa, Best male singer (modern) – Ram Krishna Dhakal, Album of the year (male) – Deep Shrestha, Album of the year (female) – Kunti Muktan, Best lyrics – Kali Prasad Rijal, Best female singer (pop) – Sharmila Bardewa, Best male singer (pop) – Madhyanna, Best duo or band – 1974 A.D., Album of the year (pop) – Buds, Best composition (pop) – Jems Pradhan, Best lyrics (pop) – Shree Purush Dhakal, Folk song of the year – Ratna Baniya and Bima Dura, Best visual – Alok, Film song of the year – Sambhujit Banskota and Devika Pradhan, and Lifetime achievement award – Bhakta Raj Acharya.
The awards were presented by Mr. Piyush B. Amatya, Executive Chairman of Mount Everest Brewery which produces San Miguel beer and the Irish stout Guinness.
San Miguel sponsors Miss Nepal 2000
San Miguel once again was the main sponsor of the Miss Nepal 2000 beauty pageant which was held at the King Birendra International Convention Center on July 12. Usha Khadgi was the winner of the coveted crown this year.
San Miguel beer is brewed by Mount Everest Brewery, a part of the Amatya Group of companies. The Amatya Group, one of the leading business and industrial conglomerates in Nepal, is also known for its contributions to social causes, sports and other first-concept events like the Miss Nepal beauty contest.
Rana receives Deep Smriti Award
Bhajan (hymns) singer Mr. Binayak Shumsher Rana has been honored with the Deep Smriti Award 2000-2001. The award, instituted by the Deep Shumsher Rana Memorial Committee, is given away every year to an outstanding personality for his or her contribution to Nepalese poetry and music. Deep Shumsher Rana himself was a singer and poet, and the trust was established by his wife and sons in his memory.
Seen in the picture (right), Mr. Binayak Shumsher Rana receiving the award from Chairman of the Rajparishad Standing Committee Dr. Kesharjung Rayamajhi.
New executive body at AFT
The Association For Tourism (AFT) recently elected a new working committee to be headed by Mr. Gyan Prasad Rimal as its president. The new body has Mr. Binod Kharel as the vice president, Mr. Netranath Bhattarai as the secretary, Mr. Dhruba Lamsal as the joint secretary and Mr. Bal Krishna Lamsal as the treasurer. The other newly elected members of the committee include Mr. Bharat Kafle, Mr. Sushil Neupane, Mr. Kedarnath Khanal, Mr. Kedar Gautam, Mr. Phralad Bista, Mr. Ranjit Tiwari, Mr. Rana Bahadur Khadka and Mr. Ram Sharan Thapaliya.
Nepal Courier has new excom
Nepal Courier Service Association has a new executive committee. The association is to be headed by its newly elected president Mr. Gobardhan Pahadi. The others elected include Mr. Pawan Kishore Rathi – vice president, Mr. Rameshwor Shiva – general secretary, Mr. Kiran Shrestha – treasurer and members Mr. Narendra Khatiwada, Mr. K. P. Bhandari, Mr. Bhumar Singh and Ms. Seema Thapa.
Mr. Nainu SJB Rana is the Chairman of Village Tourism-Nepal (VITOUN) and Mero Travel. VITOUN seeks to take tourism to the rural areas of Nepal. Mr. Rana believes tourism is the key to rural development. Under his guidance, VITOUN has selected a site along the border between Dhaulagiri and Gandaki zones in mid-west Nepal where various tourism-related programs are there for the benefit of unemployed youth.