Hike in vehicle rental cost to make tour packages dearer

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Tourist vehicle service providers announce they will be raising rental charges from October 1

KATHMANDU, July 30: Tourist motor vehicle service providers are increasing vehicle rental costs from October 1.

Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) and Nepal Tourist Vehicles Association (NTVA) signed a 15-point agreement on March 1, agreeing, among others, to increase rental cost of tourist vehicles (green-plated vehicles) from October 1.

Kul Prasad Neupane, general secretary of NTVA, said that the association has adjusted rental costs, not hiked rates. “Earlier, tourists had to pay 20 percent extra if air-conditioner in the vehicle is switched on. Now, there will be no such extra costs,” he said, adding that this is the first hike in rental costs in seven years.

Though vehicle rental fee is paid by tour operators, it ultimately passes on to tourists. As transportation cost is considered an important component while calculating cost of tour packages, they decision will make tour packages dearer for tourists.

The cost of airport transfers on Toyota Hiace, which is Rs 1,100 per trip at present, will increase to Rs 1,750 from October 1.

Neupane added that all green-plated vehicles will charge the new rates from October 1. He argued that the rates are still cheaper compared to public transportation fare.

According to the agreement, airport arrival/departure rental cost of a bus (over 30 seats) will increase to Rs 2,750. Similarly, green-plated buses will now charge Rs 5,500 for arrival and departure for mountain flights.

The agreement further stated that 50 percent extra will be levied on airport transfers after 8 pm. Similarly, journeys on graveled roads in hilly regions will also attract 25 percent extra on top of the published rate. Similarly, the agreement states that overnight charge will be imposed if day return trips are not completed by 10 pm.

C N Pandey, president of NATTA, argued that they have managed to introduce a single rate for transportation services. “Earlier, vehicle service providers were charging different rates for AC and other services. All these costs have been incorporated in the new rates,” he added. “It is beneficial for all.”

However, tour operators say it won’t be logical to impose new rates at the beginning of the new tourist season. Talking to Republica, Ramesh Luintel, CEO of Euro-Asia Tours and Travels, said that the decision will hurt tour operators who sold tour packages months ago. “We sold tour packages for October and November months ago. Now, we cannot ask tourists to pay extra,” he said, adding that tour operators will have to pay the additional costs from their own pockets. “They should have introduced the new rates from the spring of 2019.”

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