At a time when tourism stakeholders are weighing the possibility of waiving off visa fee to bring more tourists to the country, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripashur Sherpa has said visa fee won’t be waived off as it will have direct impact on revenue collection.
“Foreigners have to pay a minimum of US$ 25 as visa fee. If they cannot pay this amount, how can we be assured that they will spend hundreds of dollars here,” Sherpa said, speaking at a meeting with former tourism ministers.
At present, foreign tourists have to pay visa fee of $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days and $100 for 90 days. They have to pay additional $25 for double or multiple entries for a year.
“If we waive off visa fee, it will directly affect revenue collection. We will have to focus on providing better service instead of waiving off visa fee,” Sherpa said, adding that good marketing strategies should be adopted to attract more tourists.
Even though the idea of waiving off visa fee was floated during the meeting of Tourism Recovery Committee (TRC), tourism entrepreneurs say it won’t be a wise decision.
Bijay Amatya, CEO of Kora Tours, visa fee waiver won’t help much. “The government can allow multiple entries for a year as valuation addition without charging extra for it,” said Amatya.
Raj Gyawali, a tourism entrepreneur working voluntarily for tourism recovery, said visa fee waiver makes no sense as tourists are not coming here not because of visa fee but because they feel it’s unsafe. “Instead of waiving off visa fee, the government should tell tourists that certain amount of visa fee will be used for relief works,” he added.
Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) levies Rs 1,130 as Tourist Service Fee (TSF) on foreigners. Even though this fee is meant for tourism promotion, entrepreneurs say this has not been used effectively.
Pramod Nepal, under secretary of NTB, said that certain portion of TSF should be allocated for the development of other regions. “Based on number of visitors in different regions, certain part of TSF can be used for promotion of that region in the international market,” said Nepal.
According to the Department of Immigration, the government collects Rs 300 million annually from visa fee.
NTB had expected to collect Rs 1.1 billion from TSF this year.