Senior tourism entrepreneur Dambar Bahadur KC is the advisor and former chairman of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) Western Regional Association Pokhara. He is also a chief coordinator of Silver Jubilee year that is being marked by TAAN WRA Pokhara. Here is a short chitchat with KC. Excerpts:
How is this Silver Jubilee being marked?
Besides regular programs, we have carried out some new events and activities to celebrate this historic program. The inauguration of TAAN WRA Pokhara new official building and some training programs also have been incorporated in the chart of this year. The documentation of the activities that TAAN made happen during the last 25 years also is our key chore.
Most of the popular and old trekking routes being overlapped by road construction; what is TAAN doing to guarantee the future of trekking tourism in Nepal?
It is very unfortunate to threaten the trekking routes which are not only the source of income of Nepal but also are the base of living of thousands of entrepreneurs and workers of Nepal. So, I would like to request all the concerns not to finish our trekking routes. But the existing situation is that when we build new trekking routes, the government comes up with bulldozers and excavators. So, I request the government for pre-information of road construction so that we can make sure the exploration of new trekking routes in certain area without any uncertainty and hesitation.
Trekking tourism also is being affected by the wrangling between TAAN and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) over the revenue from Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS); why is it so?
Yes, there are some issues over the revenue from TIMS. In this connection, there have been deposited and freezed millions of rupees in the common bank account of TAAN and NTB but we are urging for mobilization of that fund for the sake of tourism development. At the same time, issue is that the NTB seems reluctant to do so. That money should be invested for the promotion of tourism instead of dispersing for fairs and festivals is our key demand. More than that, we would like to utilize that money for the welfare of trekking workers but NTB is not ready for all that.
How would you judge the role of Annapurna Conservation Area Project in trekking tourism?
I don’t know why ACAP is not so much positive with TAAN as they always hesitate to launch joint programs with us and doesn’t like to cooperate as they also are working in tourism sector. Even if they like to work in their own, the conservation works should be carried out honestly as they claim they are doing too. They have been collecting millions of rupees as tourist entry fees in Annapurna Region but where have all the money gone? So, let’s utilize that money for tourism development, promotion and conservation instead of excessively spending it in salary and meeting allowances.
What TAAN WRA is doing in the part of conservation and corporate social responsibility?
We are very much sensitive on both the parts you mentioned. If there is no conservation, tourism doesn’t exist. We have been doing several such conservation related activities. The CSR is also the part of our concern. We have worked on both the parts and is going to hold numbers of activities related to conservation and CSR during this silver jubilee year too.