I take issue with yet a reader's letter ("Remove fees", #106) from a western tourist suggesting again that visa fees, tourism/heritage fees and similar are "too high" and that to reduce or abolish them would somehow "promote tourism in Nepal". Basically, Nepal remains one of the lowest-cost tourist destinations in the world and most western visitors benefit from the low prices and cost of living. The fact that access to historic quarters in Europe may be free of charge disguises the heavy government subsidies and the incredibly high cost for any tourist to holiday there. Since Nepal is among the poorest 10 percent of countries, I think the vast majority of tourists accept paying a token fee to see some heritage sites is reasonable (though perhaps the Rs 700 for Bhaktapur is a little steep)-if not, then maybe that category of tourist brings little to the country.
I was especially amused to find a Swiss tourist lodging such a complaint. My organisation is a Swiss-based NGO. Four years ago, the Swiss national and local government arbitrarily levied a high tax retrospectively on the pensions of all our 100 international staff worldwide (who do not live or work in Switzerland, but the fund is held there). If one of the richest countries in the world engages in official illegitimate "looting by tax", I hardly think its citizens can complain when modest, legitimate official fees for visas, heritage sites are collected from wealthy tourists in Nepal.