It is the perfect time to rethink, restructure, rebrand, and reposition our destinations, products, and services in the source markets.
With a career spanning 40 years in the tourism industry of Nepal, Bibhuti Chand Thakur is the current Chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter and the Founder and President of Himalayan Holidays Treks & Tours.
After completion of his undergraduate studies from Tri-Chandra College in 1981, he ventured into the tourism business rather instead of his alternative option of going to Japan to study Architectural Engineering.
Thakur started his career in tourism with Tiger Tops Group in 1982. Within eight years, in September 1990, he had established Himalayan Holidays Treks & Tours. He is also the Founder and Chairman of a non-profit organisation called Mission Himalaya which has been working actively for the welfare of orphaned, destitute and underprivileged children.
In this issue of B360, the versatile and hospitable Bibhuti Chand Thakur shares the five things that have impacted his work and life.
I have painstakingly learned many bits of advice and useful tips in business over the years. However I would like to share the three major takeaways of my life for new or emerging business entrepreneurs and professionals. First is to learn to swim with the sharks without getting eaten alive. Learn to manage yourself and navigate your way through dark and murky waters full of sharks in life such that survival with sanity is key to success. Next is to walk that extra mile. If you have some work left on your desk, try to complete it even if it takes an extra hour for at least you will do yourself a favour for who knows how much more workload there will be next day. This is the Zen way of keeping your desks clean and clear of any pending work to ease your workload. Lastly, smart management of time and money is very crucial in our professional and personal life. We need to learn to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound for money management (budgeting, saving, investing, spending, etc.) for successful management even during unprecedented challenging times like these of Covid 19 pandemic or other force majeure.
The Family Influence
I have found my parents, my spouse and my big sister as the most influential people in my life. My father was a true saint and taught me all the beautiful positive things in life and to be a good man despite all the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead. He taught me love, kindness, compassion, and taught me to walk that extra mile to do my duty as a good business-head, a good son, a good friend, colleague, a good father, a good husband and a sincere nationalist. He was the Ambassador to over a dozen nations during the 1950s till mid- 1970s. My mother was a homemaker by profession but an ideal person to learn about time and money management. She was a very-practical lady who taught me to hold my hard-earned money in a tight fist turned upward. I still remember her lessons that money is not everything in life but earn and learn to clutch your earned-money for such a time like this so that you will have something for you and your family and dependents. My wife fulfilled all the duties of both my parents and even took care of me when I faltered, and my sister taught me a lot on management, filing systems, cleaner desks and the clutter-free environment in the workplace as well as at home.
Choosing the tourism sector over architectural engineering
In 1981 after completing my Bachelors in Maths and Physics, I was chosen to go to Japan for Architectural Engineering which was my teenage dream. There were a few issues in my earlier life that prompted me to forego that scholarship offered to me by the world-famous earthquake expert late Professor Kenzo Tange who was a very dear friend of my father. With international exposure and experience, my passion and interest in travel, building public relations and global communication brought me to the tourism business right here in Nepal. Those years we had not much choice when it came to working so I found tourism to be the most suitable profession for me. I started with a niche pioneer adventure group Tiger Tops Mountain Travel International, presently known as Tiger Mountain Group.
Revitalising the happy moments
I used to listen to a lot of a different kinds of music, play the guitar, sing, dance, and even won a few competitions several years ago, and love to do so even now when there’s free time. After several years and with this pandemic situation, I started spending more time at home cleaning, cooking, arranging and fixing things around the house to assist my wife. I used to be a good artist and sketching was a school day hobby too. So I am planning to start art and sketching again beside the ongoing music practice. This pandemic has indeed prompted me to bring back some of the past activities from 35-40 years ago during my free time. Well here I am trying to commemorate and revitalise those hobbies, talents, and happy moments of life once again.
Time to elevate the Nepali tourism industry
This is the time to think about not just bouncing back or recovering from this deadly pandemic, but also to elevate the tourism industry of Nepal in a more strong, resilient and sustainable manner.
This crisis has indeed presented in front of us an excellent opportunity to have a re-think about the overall tourism management system of our nation that was not yielding the anticipated outcome in the past. The crisis will always come, but how are we prepared to combat the ongoing crisis and maintain our lofty dreams and objectives of furthering sustainable tourism development initiatives shall remain the main concern here. It is the perfect time to rethink, restructure, rebrand, and reposition our destinations, products, and services in the source markets. There needs to be a holistic approach amongst government, Nepal Tourism Board, private sector businesses, and the community stakeholders. More than ever, we all need to work together with enhanced collaboration, cooperation and coordination focusing on six priority areas to ensure a strong, sustainable and resilient tourism in the future. The six priority areas are the development of infrastructures to ensure safety and security of travellers, strengthening the aviation sector with up-grading and successful operation of the national flag carrier, restructuration and reformation of the tourism policies and acts to encourage more investment, engagement and rewards to the stakeholders, adopting contemporary marketing strategies that are market-focused and intensive, intensifying Human Capital Development (HCD) training and programmes and research, product development and standardisation of tourism products and services with innovative ideas and technology in place.