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18 Aug, 2003

Asian Development Bank Loans to Aid Tourism in Asia

The Asian Development Bank has extended loans that will benefit ecotourism in Nepal and the development of inter-atoll transportation in the Maldives. Next month, it will be helping to organise a ministerial meeting of the Mekong countries, with one of the issues on the agenda being the establishment of a GMS visa.


NEPAL: Ecotourism promotion plans in Nepal are included in projects that will attract loans totalling US$321 million from the Asian Development Bank over the next three years.

The loans were cleared last week by the ADB’s Board of Directors. The annual lending over the period, to average $107 million per annum, will focus on sustainable poverty reduction, broad-based economic growth, social development, and good governance.

The planned program consists of 14 loans, 93% of which are for poverty reduction projects. In addition to the promotion of ecotourism, other projects will include rural and agriculture development; education improvements; rural electrification; and governance reforms.

“Priority will be given to assisting the Nepalese government’s reconciliation and reconstruction efforts through developing rural areas, improving basic social services and infrastructure, enabling private sector development, and improving governance in the public, corporate, and financial sectors,” says Richard Vokes, Director of ADB’s Operations Coordination Division for South Asia.

Nepal’s economy has been negatively affected by a series of internal and external shocks, including an intensified insurgency, irregular monsoon, and weak external demand that has hit production and trade. The economy contracted by 0.5% in FY2002 after growing by 4.6% the year before, as agricultural growth, industrial output, and tourism all declined. However, growth is forecast to improve to 1.5% in FY2003 and 3.5% in FY2004.

“Nepal’s prospects for growth depend crucially on improved domestic security,” Mr. Vokes adds. “If the ceasefire signed in January continues to hold and leads to an effective peace process, the environment for development activities, including those supported by ADB, will significantly improve, although they are likely to take some time to be felt.”

As of end-2002, ADB had approved a total of 99 loans for Nepal amounting to $2 billion.

MALDIVES: Establishing a system of inter-island transportation in the Maldives is to be one of the beneficiaries of an Asian Development Bank loan package totalling US$18 million over the next three years.

The loans are designed to support pro-poor economic growth, inclusive social development and capacity building for promoting good governance. The loans are designed to help the Maldives diversify its economy and create jobs in the atolls to mitigate adverse impacts arising from the possible ending of preferential treatment in trade and other areas.

The three loans approved last week will create a series of regional development nodes, build transport infrastructure, and expand electrification:

  • A Regional Development Project (Phase II) in the pipeline for 2004 will expand the social infrastructure, including water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, land use planning, and environmental monitoring in the Central North, Central, and Central South regions.
  • In 2005, a Transport Infrastructure Development Project aims to spur economic activity and improve access to social services in the atolls by establishing a system of inter-island transportation.
  • In 2006, the Island Electrification Project (Phase II) is planned as a follow-up to a previous Electrification Project to include islands not covered by the first project.

The Maldives has received 12 loans totalling $77.68 million since joining ADB in 1978.

GREATER MEKONG SUBREGION: The possibility of creating tourist visas for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries and the creation of special economic zones are on the agenda of a GMS ministerial meeting in Dali, Yunnan Province, China, on 17-19 September 2003.

The 12th GMS Ministerial Conference will include ministers from Cambodia, PRC, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The ministers will review the progress of key GMS initiatives and discuss proposals raised at the first GMS Summit of Leaders held in Cambodia last November.

With Asian Development Bank assistance, the six GMS countries began a program of economic cooperation in 1992. In its first decade, the program has built a foundation for increased trade, investment, tourism, and other forms of cooperation including human resources development and environmental management.

Home to some 250 million people, the subregion, as big as Western Europe, is tipped to become a dynamic growth area in the years ahead.

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