From The Nepali Press
Himal Khabarpatrika, 1 July
FROM ISSUE #254 (01 JULY 2005 - 07 JULY 2005) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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What do you do when tourist numbers fall? You start taxing the few who still come. That is the mindset of the Pokhara sub-metropolitan office which has decided to charge tourists $10 to enter the fair city. While tourist operators are struggling to lure more international visitors into the resort town, the government is all set to scare them away with this new tax. The decision has provoked a huge outcry among travel agents already in deep depression because of the slump. The municipality has not made a single contribution to promote international tourism and is now trying to squeeze every cent out of the few tourists who venture here. In 1998, Pokhara saw 100,000 tourists and that didn\'t even include Indians. The number has now plummeted to 87,000 counting Indians. And even the visitors who come are budget tourists who stay at the cheapest hotels, prefer bakery food and ride bicycles. "How can the fee be justified when all Pokhara has to offer is polluted Fewa Lake, empty hotels and restaurants?" asks Ganesh Bahadur Bhattarai of Pokhara Tourist Council.