Transporters' syndicate halts Pokhara-Chitwan tourist bus service
POKHARA, April 2: Though the government has scrapped syndicate in transportation, Prithvi Highway Bus Entrepreneurs Committee (PHEBC) -- a syndicate of transporters operating along the Prithvi Highway -- on Monday foiled attempt to start direct tourist coach services between Pokhara and Chitwan.
The Pokhara Chapter of Nepal Association of Tours and Travels Agents (NATTA) and Regional Hotel Association, Chitwan had announced the service to facilitate tourists traveling between the two tourist destinations. The service was scheduled to begin from Monday itself.
Shankar Koirala, president of PHEBC, said they protested because the green-plated buses are meant to carry foreigners only. “Who will travel in our buses if green-plated buses started carrying Nepalis in the name of domestic tourists?” questioned Koirala. “As the green-plated vehicles enjoy tax exemption, they should carry only the foreigners.”
Defending the committee´s move, Koirala said they were not trying to imposing syndicate in transportation.
Thirty passengers aboard the tourist coach were transferred to another vehicle following protest by the PHEBC.
Tourist coaches plying the Pokhara-Kathmandu route had stopped carrying domestic tourists five years ago following protest by PHBEC. “Although we had signed an agreement with tourism entrepreneurs then, they didn´t follow it,” Koirala said. He added that tourist coaches were carrying 75 percent of Nepali passengers on Pokhara-Kathmandu route.
Despite the protest of PHEBC, Kedar Sharma, president of NATTA Pokhara Chapter, said they won´t backtrack. “No one can impose syndicate system. We are determined to operate tourist coaches on Pokhara-Chitwan route,” he added.
With the operation of intercity luxury bus service, tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara are hopeful of drawing at least 20 percent of tourists visiting Chitwan to the lake city. Chitwan welcomed 250,000 tourists in 2011 and 40 percent of them were Nepalis. Hoteliers in Chitwan were also optimistic about welcoming some of the tourists visiting Pokhara.