At a time when Nepal has been observing Nepal Tourism Year 2011, Nepal’s pioneer tourism entrepreneur Shakya spoke to SHRADHA GYAWALI at Hotel Ambassador. Excerpts:
How is the present situation of the airport runway and the equipment problems hurting the tourism industry?
It really saddens all of us. Not only the tourism industry but the whole country is being affected to a certain degree. Such a thing shows the level of inefficiency and corruption in the system. Definitely Tribhuvan International Airport is not the best showcase for the Nepali Tourism Industry. All the tourist areas handled by the government are almost failing like Nepal Airlines and Tribhuvan International Airport.
What are the new tourist destinations that are being prepared for Nepal or are we still trying to promote places like Pokhara, Nagarkot, and Chitwan to name a few?
One of the main objectives of Nepal Tourism Year was to find at least 40% new locations. Nepal Tourism Year has already raised hopes for people. We had conducted a tourism fair where 62 districts participated and all these districts wanted to be a 'tourist destination' however, they have been unable to prove their potential.
Hotels had to close in the last four to five years like Blue Star, Hotel Sherpa and Hotel Narayani, how do you look at this?
I am sure this must have been really painful for the owners. They were all four star hotels and I am sure they tried to sustain but failed. If it’s a big tree they have long roots hence, don't fall, small saplings bend due to the force of the wind but they do not die but the ones that are neither too old nor young happen to fall and that is exactly what happened with the hotels then. The five stars and the small hotels (one- star) survived and the rest couldn't survive. The labor problem during those days was also one of the important causes for the failure of these hotels.
How do you think the Bryan Adam’s concert contributed towards Nepal Tourism Year 2011?
The concert gave a very positive message. Our motive was to clear our (the country’s) insurgency image. The concert gave a very positive image of Nepal. It also supported our campaign and helped spread a positive image of Nepal. This concert has proved that Nepal is a safe destination.
Where do you see the tourism industry five years from now? How are you planning on getting tourists that spend money?
Five years down the line if we follow the plans we have made, I am sure we can get two million tourists. When we started the mission of NTY it seemed impossible but our planning was quite scientific and with two giant neighbors on either side namely, India and China, we could see a silver lining. We mainly focused on these two countries. If we change our strategy, like we did for the Nepal Tourism Year 2011, I am sure we will get a lot of high paying tourists in the future.