“In 2019 global tourism was worth US $ 8.9 trillion, constituted 10.3% of global GDP, accounted for 330 million jobs, that is one-in-ten globally, had US $ 948 billion in investments – 4.3% of all investments globally. It was huge! All of these needs to be brought back on track and that, indeed, is a tall order”
Since 1989 Ashok Pokhrel has been in the travel business as a Trek and Expeditions Operator, Tour Operator, Restaurant Operator and more recently as a Logistics Planner since 2005 and in Airline Distribution since 2010. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, he was working on two separate hotel projects, which in his own words, “dodged a major hail of bullets.” Currently, he is engaged with an agriculture based venture as well as expanding his logistics business.
Ashok Pokharel is a seasoned entrepreneur widely known for his sharp wit and passion for the industries he operates in. He is also President of Nepal Association of Tour Operators.
In this edition of Business 360, he talks about the five things that have influenced his work and life.
Don’t be wary trying new business avenues. My father told me that before we got into the business of logistics. And he was right. I have since always kept an open mind. All businesses at their core have common denominators and present common core challenges.
My father, Tek Chandra Pokharel, continues to inspire me the most. He was a child soldier by today’s standards during the 2007 revolution against Rana regime and fought with the Nepali Congress’ Mukti Sena in the Janakpur sector as a 17 year-old. During his life-time he worked in the capacity of a teacher, farmer, big game hunter, manufacturer of furniture, travel agent, hotelier, industry leader and an Honorary Consul. But, above all, he was a husband and a father – two things that were very important to him and that he tried to pass along to me every step of the way.
Pivotal Life Decision
The most important life decision has been to serve my trade. I have been involved with my trade in various associations since 1991, barely two years since joining the workforce. This meant that I had to leave the trekking trails for the office mostly, and devote a lot of my time serving my colleagues in the industry and our collective interests. Of course, a lot of the industry players are, in effect, my competition! In the course of this journey, I have served as the Hon Secretary of the PATA Nepal Chapter, as President of the Chapter, a member of the Asia Division Steering Committee of PATA, as a proxy to the Board of PATA, as Hon. Secretary of the Nepal Association of Tour Operators and am currently serving my third term as President of the Nepal Association of Tour Operators, in addition to stints on various other trade committees. In between I served a term each on the Executive Committee of the Nepal Tourism Board and as a Member of the Board of Directors of Nepal Airlines Corporation – a father-son feat. My father had served a term on the erstwhile Royal Nepal Airlines Board some 28 years prior! During my term on the Nepal Airlines Board we managed to finalise the purchase of the A320 aircraft. Incidentally, the B757’s were ordered when my father served on the Board!
Serving in these offices has taught me that there is a higher calling in life than just business and that when your country calls for you to serve, you step up and answer that call and serve as long as your country needs you.
Why do we Travel
I always remember a quote by Mark Twain “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Especially, post Covid 19, this will hold true on so many more counts than it used to. This pandemic is making people xenophobic and closing so many doors that took so many decades to pry open. We are going to have to take a battering ram to all those and so many more doors that have been shut. In 2019 global tourism was worth US $ 8.9 trillion, constituted 10.3% of global GDP, accounted for 330 million jobs, that is one-in-ten globally, had US $ 948 billion in investments – 4.3% of all investments globally. It was huge! All of these needs to be brought back on track and that, indeed, is a tall order.
I have two philosophies that I adhere to in life. The first is I choose to be happy. The second is I will not dwell long on things that are beyond my control. Both these philosophies helped me endure the devastation of the 2015 earthquakes and are presently guiding my decision making processes during the current pandemic when all of my business activities have come to a grinding halt.