Nepal may lose Indian tourists after currency restriction

Dec 18, 2018-In the budget for the current fiscal year, the government announced the 2020 Visit Nepal year with an aim to attract 2 million tourists, a significant chunk of them from India.

This gave travel trade entrepreneurs hope that the government would also take initiatives to make the Indian currency, particularly the larger banknotes, acceptable in Nepal. But that didn’t happen.

A recent meeting of the Cabinet decided to publish the notification in the Nepal Gazette not to allow people to carry Indian currency notes above 100 denomination in Nepal. This means Indian bills of 200, 500, 2000 will be illegal.

Notes above INR500 are not legal for financial transactions in Nepal. In practice, however, they are widely accepted, particularly in border towns, hotels and casinos.

“The decision is a big setback particularly for cash-driven industries like tourism,” said Basanta Raj Mishra, a senior tourism entrepreneur. “We were optimistic that the government was taking initiatives to make the Indian currency, the denomination of at least INR500, acceptable in Nepal targeting the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.”