In the middle ages, people were tourists because of their religion, whereas now they are tourists because tourism is their religion.<br>BY SHRADHA GYAWALI

June 22, 2010, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 04, NO. 02, june 18- 2010 (Ashad-04, 2067)

Shyam Bahadur Pandey is a creative and industrious entrepreneur who has contributed significantly to the tourism industry of Nepal. Pandey was born in Kathmandu 73 years ago. A successful Nepali entrepreneur, he is still leading an active life and offers an inspiration for the younger generation.


“Be willing to learn all your life,” says Pandey. Ask him, he practices what he preaches.


In his childhood days, the scope for people’s exposure to outer world was limited. Children in those days, he says, had limited ambitions compared to those of today.


Pandey didn’t have any big ambition either. Rather he hoped to be able to make some contribution to the country.

Educated people reach certain heights with greater ease than those without education. This asset also helped Pandey to get where he stands today.

“The most valuable gift that you can give someone is the freedom to be themselves,” says Pandey, who completed his high school from Padmodaya, did his post graduation from Nagpur and was also trained in the US.

“All that I am today and all my achievements are because of my loved ones who allowed me to choose my own vocation in life and supported me instead of compelling me to become an engineer or doctor or other fashionable professional as they fancied,” he says.


The legendary hotel Shangri-La in Kathmandu and the people who shaped it shared something in common -- a vision of what Shangri-La should be and the fortitude to make it happen. Pandey had a vision and worked to make it come true. His aspiration for a Shangri-La, a cozy and hospitable home away from home, was realized when the hotel took shape. Pandey took Shangri-la to Pokhara, a spectacular and an exclusive place to spend a holiday, yet another home away from home for all.


The hotel idea became more ambitious than Pandey ever imagined it to be. He was helped in his dream hotel by Desmond Doig, the ‘Rennaissance’ man who made Nepal his home.


”Our future depends greatly on tourism”

The travel and tourism industry is just a huge part of our economy and Shyam Bahadur Pandey, in a brief interview, opens up his experiences in this field where he has spent most time of his life.

 What tools can be implemented in order to boost the level of tourism in the country?
As our future depends greatly on tourism, our main focus should be on boosting our tourism in countries like Europe and America but at the same time I also think we should do something in India as it is easy. I don’t think that we can get the same volume of people from China. Marketing has been our major tool that we have implemented but we are also doing everything else possible. Nepal being a poor country and due to problems like political instability, insurgency, and absence of aircraft, the process of boosting the sector has not been very easy. We cannot not just go everywhere and tell people about our tourism in the country, therefore it is better to concentrate on India as the Indian market is also growing like ours.


What preparations and steps are being taken in order to make Nepal Tourism Year 2011 a success?
There have been plans on improving the national airways but still nothing seems to be possible due to hurdles and barriers.


We are also preparing for festivals to attract tourists to our country. Hotels are doing renovation works and are also going for marketing. More events will also be conducted for this purpose. The Swayambhu stupa, for example, has also got gold paint after a hundred years in view of the tourism year 2011.


How do you feel has the tourism industry contributed to the country?
Tourism is an industry that has a lot of benefits. It generates the highest level of employment. It is also a clean industry as it goes hand in hand with the environment and is considered to be eco-friendly, an aspect that should be given due importance these days. This industry also gives employment in the remote areas which is not something other industries, other than the tourism industry, can do. It also helps in generating foreign exchange and taxes for the country’s benefit.


How do you feel that the tourism industry has changed in the past few decades and how do you think it is likely to change in the future?
The opportunities that we had in the olden days were few. Now there are more opportunities and the world is open and is opening wider for trade and tourism. Today we have the world to trade with but in the bygone days we just had the country itself to do trade which made it very difficult for collecting adequate capital. People studied for getting good government jobs. The world is open now and will be more open in the years to come and we can thus carry on doing international businesses. The starting time of every business is difficult and one should not give up rather should focus on it in the same way as “Arjuna did on the eye of the fish.” Then only can you get success. Businesses have a lot of problem and risk involved with them and only if you focus on them can you get the answer to all the difficulties you face.

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