KATHMANDU: At a time when the country is marking Visit Nepal Year 2020, stakeholders, experts, panellists, students convened in an interaction themed ‘Academia-Industry Interface on Tourism & Hospitality’ to discuss challenges and opportunities, in Kathmandu, on Friday.
With the motive of highlighting related issues to students, Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM) organised the event today.
Speaking in two different sessions, guest speakers and panellists shed light on various issues and interacted with delegates from Pokhara, Chitwan, Kathmandu and others in the event.
Welcoming the guest and delegates, NATHM’s Executive Director Durga Dutta Dhakal said the interaction programme would help to forge a collaboration between academia and hospitality industry to usher development of human resources.
NATHM’s Deputy Head of Department Surya Kiran Shrestha highlighted challenges galore in the hospitality industry such as low salary at entry-level, brain drain, political interference during the recruitment process, low turnover and stressed the need of a paradigm shift in hospitality education.
Although Nepal produces at least 12,000 fresh graduates, a majority of them leave for foreign countries seeking jobs due to low employment opportunities in the country, Shrestha lamented.
Tourism expert and keynote speaker Ravi Jung Pandey said, “Interactive and collaborative mechanism should be established between the academia and hospitality sector. Pandey said this referring to the creation of a win-win situation for both the parties.
“Though regarded as a critical challenge to the hospitality-tourism education sector in Nepal, less has been suggested about the right path and strategy of cashing on partnership and aligning the benefit of both the academia and industry. Each of the above mentioned potential areas of avenues needs to be explored in detail to identify the nitty-gritty of Nepali tourism and developing the right strategy to make them work,” Pandey shared.
Likewise, speaking in the event, Nepal Association of Tour & Travel Agents (NATTA) President Achyut Guragain stressed on the conceptual as well as practical excellence of graduates and executives working in the sector for the sustainability of the industry. He also urged the concerned stakeholders to organise travel fair, travel mart to attract tourists rather than spending millions on advertisement abroad.
Addressing the event, Sreejana Rana, President of Hotel Association of Nepal and Executive Director of Hotel Annapurna, urged the government to implement the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) from deluxe hotels to home-stays operating in the country to maintain the standard.
Rana further shared her experience of more than two decades in the industry, urging the young generations not to refrain from doing small things — from cleaning to picking up trash if they really wanted to succeed in the field.
“Going abroad for an internship is not a bad idea, but you should always stick to your roots to serve your culture and values to the customers after returning to Nepal. Every day is a new day and never stop learning,” Rana, first female executive director in the industry, shared.
Guest speaker Dorjje Sherpa, Managing Director of Gokarna Forest Resort, shared his two-decade wide experience in the hospitality industry and urged the academia to think beyond the traditional learning and teaching methods. He pointed out that time has come in Nepal to design curriculum focusing on value sharing rather than training them to offer service with a smile to guests.
Ghanshyam Upadhya, acting secretary of the tourism ministry, said, the government has given an emphasis on tourism development and the tourism policies are incorporated in the constitution.
During the event, a group of nine researchers from Bachelor of Travel and Tourism Management (BTTM) made a presentation of their recent interesting finding of ‘Sati Devi Trail/Route’ in Kathmandu.
Team member Sanjay Nepal said, referring to their team leader and mentor Dr Rajiv Dahal, “We knew about the Sati Devi Trail from Hindu myths and decided to explore Kathmandu valley to find a new and exciting trail to help pilgrims looking for spiritual attainment. Another team member Muna Aryal said the project is ongoing to reveal other facts about the trail. It is believed that Sati Devi’s remains fell on various areas in Kathmandu as Lord Shiva carried her for final rites.
During a panel discussion, students and delegates interacted with Digbijaya Koney, CEO Gandaki Treks and Expedition Pvt, Abishek Bikram Shah, MD Chandragiri Hills Pvt, Junu Maleku, Country Manager Cathay Pacific Airlines, Bipin Nepal, Chief Instructor at NATHM, Ashish Shrestha Co-founder Honey Guide App, Dr Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Senior faculty member of MHM in NATHM.
Answering question put forth by one of the participants referring to low pay for fresh graduates and attraction to foreign lands, Abishek Bikram Shah said, “love your country, keep working hard and you will succeed one day.” He said, one doesn’t have to be extra-talented to succeed in life. “All you need is dedication, passion and confidence.”
Fellow panellist Junu Maleku urged the participants to keep alternatives if Plan A fails in life. Likewise, Bipin Nepal urged the students to be themselves and enjoy their work and life not expecting too much.
NATHM’s Bachelor in Hotel Management (BHM) coordinator and senior instructor Binod Aryal said, “Experts imparting their knowledge and experience would help the students to understand the real-world scenarios.”