A board meeting of the Nepal Tourism Board on Tuesday appointed Dhananjay Regmi as the head of the country’s tourism promotional body for a four-year term following a week of behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring.
The board meeting, chaired by Tourism Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, picked Regmi from among three candidates on the shortlist that included Hikmat Singh Ayer and Deepak Bastakoti.
There were 17 applicants for the top post at the Tourism Board. Nine candidates made it past the first round, and three finalists were on the shortlist drawn up by the CEO selection sub-committee.
Regmi was the top choice for the position, with a score of 34 points to Bastakoti’s 26.3 and Ayer’s 26.1. But his nomination had become uncertain after both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Tourism Ministry jockeyed to place their own man in the top spot. Regmi is not a member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
Attempts to reach Regmi for comment via telephone were unsuccessful.
Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a board member representing the private sector, said that Regmi was appointed by a unanimous decision of the board’s quorum. Mahara, who was also a member of the CEO selection sub-committee, said Regmi was given the highest scores based on his outstanding performance on the business plan, presentation and interview.
Nepal Tourism Board’s 11-member board consists of five representatives each from the government and the private sector besides the CEO. The tourism secretary chairs the board.
“Now, Regmi has to submit another four-year plan to run the organisation and sign a performance contract before assuming office,” said Mahara.
Regmi is an environmental activist with a doctorate in environmental earth science from Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Previously a geography teacher at Budhanilkantha Higher Secondary School, he is the chairperson of Himalayan Research Expedition Nepal, a tourism company that focuses on eco-friendly tours and treks for mountain researchers and scholars. Regmi also owns the Himalayan North-Face Resort in Lukla.
The Nepal Tourism Board had been headless since Deepak Raj Joshi’s term ended in the third week of December. The board had extended Joshi’s term by three months in an attempt to retain him as the country launched the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. He turned down the offer in order to apply for a full second term. Joshi did not make it to the shortlist.