Kathmandu, May 21
The Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has expressed its serious concern over the ongoing nationwide strikes and bandhs organized by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), the Broader Madhesi Front (BMF) and other groups and factions who wish to push their various demands.
Such activities have little value as pressure tactics in a country that is emerging from years of war, but hurt the economic sector hard, especially the vulnerable tourism industry. "It is now time for Nepal to get much positive publicity in the form of news of successful ascents of Mt. Everest by various expeditions. Instead, we are now making headlines for closing down the country and causing inconveniences to our guests," a press statement issued by NATO on Monday read.
The umbrella association of the country’s major tour operators is also worried that the visiting tourists have been facing difficulties while travelling to different tourist spots. "Our serious attention has been drawn towards the obstruction in the movement of tourist vehicles and the manhandling of journalists in some parts of the country," it added.
Nepal’s destination image in the past had also been tarnished in the international arena because of frequent strikes and blockades. Consequently, the international community had had negative perception towards the country. Their adverse perception had begun changing only with the start of the peace process in the country, the association said.
NATO has urged the strikers to call off their strikes and seek solution to their problem through peaceful means. It has also requested the government to ensure safe and smooth movement of tourists across the country even during the strike.
The Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI) has urged the organizers of Nepal bandh to call off their programmes and go for their alternative means.
Saying that small and cottage industries have been badly affected by the continuous bandh, the federation, issuing a press statement on Monday, said that the country’s economy would not be able to bear additional strikes.
Due to the regular bandh, entrepreneurs could face huge losses; it said and added that there would be long-term impact of the strikes on the entire production sector.
The entrepreneurs involved in small and cottage industries have been unable to pay their bank credits due to the forceful closure of their enterprises.
The federation has also asked the government and the political parties to promulgate the constitution on time and maintain communal harmony among the people from various communities, regions and castes.