interview with business entrepreneur Uttam Kayastha

06 November 2019, Kathmandu

After the success of Visit Nepal Year 1998 and Nepal Tourism Year 2011, the Tourism Board of Nepal has introduced Visit Nepal Campaign 2020. Though the campaign was announced in 2015 to be held in 2018 but was later postponed to 2020. Nepal is such a country having an amazing Himalayan beauty, exotic multicultural aspects and natural beauty attracting thousands of tourists each year. Most particularly, tourism sector of Nepal has a lot of potential for growth and expansion to cooperate the economic arena of the country. Visit Nepal 2020 with its slogan ‘lifetime experience’ has encompassed three major objectives as to improve livelihood of local people across country by improving tourism sector, to expand and extend tourism services and products in new area and to publicize image of Nepal in international tourism market. Uttam Kayastha, business entrepreneur and past district governor of Lions Clubs International spoke to Pariwartan khabar Online about Visit Nepal 2020 and the role of hotel association to achieve its vision.

How did you get engaged to tourism sector and how long it has been?
I have been engaged in travel and tourism sector since 1990. Due to my interest, I had chosen this field to work. I felt hotel business is more permanent and safety than travel and helps to generate employment supporting the whole nation.

What is your opinion towards Visit Nepal 2020?
I have taken Visit Nepal 2020 as an important program as in 2011, Nepal also celebrated Visit Nepal Year. Each country brings many programs to attract their visitors. I feel that Visit Nepal 2020 has been planned lately as it was planned in 2018 and within two years, it seems to be the lacking of sufficient homework. Tourism is such an industry which links all sectors of people together generating the income. Specially, regarding the visit, government should be attentive towards the preparation of arrival in airport, immigration, customer service, and transportation service and the road structure as well.

How do you analyze the establishment of hotels in remote area?
I think it is really very important to establish hotels not being centralized within valley. Taking this into account, we had planned and started Mountain Glory forest resort and spa in pokhara since last year. Similarly, we had started to run Jomson Eco Resort in Jomsom,Mustang from the same year. In Banepa as well, we are planning to run Banena Retreat in coming Baisakh where we are managing hospitality mobilizing locals.

How is the preparation of Visit Nepal 2020 on behalf of hotel association?
Nepal government has been working to promote Visit Nepal 2020 campaign on its own. The most important part is direct flight from Japan to Nepal has been restored just few months ago. It will further help tourist who are planning for short term visiting. Beside this, hotel association is committed to provide good service and by offering various discounts programs. As private sector has crucial role in tourism sector, we are doing our best to success the campaign making own efforts as much as possible.

What kind of opportunities will be created by this campaign?
I would like to answer this question as Visit Nepal 2020 campaign is just a program. There are so many challenges which might bring problems to grab the opportunity. So, I think it will not bring drastic change if most importantly, road construction should be well managed soon along with many infrastructures. Only then we can increase investment generating more and more employment.

What are the challenges to achieve the vision of this campaign?
I think the biggest challenge is the lack of government effort to enrich the infrastructures such as road construction which cannot be done by private sector. Another challenge is that the tourism sector of Nepal is different than other places. Specially, there is lack of safety in various trekking route. The visitors themselves may lack the presence of guide and also weather may be another challenge.

What may be the role of Lions Club International in this campaign?
Lions Club International is an organization spread over 202 countries. In Nepal, it has been working effectively with the rise in its members. The first international director from Nepal Sanjaya Khetan has been appointed as brand ambassador for this campaign from tourism board. In this regard, he has encouraged our Lions members to frequently visit Nepal and explore the natural beauty. With this, as Lions organizes seminar and workshops in different countries, it will also help to promote the campaign.

What is your key message as a hotel entrepreneur?
Visit Nepal 2020 is such a program to attract more and more tourists which has brought both challenges and opportunities. I hope this campaign will help to increase the number of tourists from all over the world. Though now we have expected the arrival of two millions tourists, most importantly we believe in mouth to mouth communication to achieve our vision.

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