Discovering Nepal – Where Hospitality Meets Adventure

– Pankaj Pradhananga

Nepal, which is nestled amidst the Himalayas, attracts travellers from across the globe with its breathtaking vistas and cultural richness. Its allure extends far beyond the snow-capped peaks and ancient temples, drawing visitors into an environment filled with the warmth and hospitality of its people.

The sentiment, “People come to Nepal for its mountains, and they come back for its people,” echoes the heartfelt experiences shared by countless travellers. It is a testament to the profound impact of the Nepali people’s genuine kindness and generosity.

For example, in the rubble and devastation left in the wake of the 2015 earthquake, the world witnessed a remarkable display of resilience and compassion. Renowned journalist Mike McRoberts found himself amidst the chaos, where a Nepali woman, despite having lost everything to the disaster, extended a humble offering of her lunch – a simple act that spoke volumes about the strength of Nepali spirit in the face of adversity.

Such stories of kindness amidst adversity are woven into the fabric of Nepali society. From the legendary expedition of Sir Edmund Hillary to the modern-day adventures of travellers, Nepal has always won hearts with hospitality. Dr. Toni Hagen, a Swiss geologist who traversed the rugged terrain of Nepal in the 1950s, was not only captivated by its geological wonders but also deeply moved by the rich cultural heritage and sense of community that existed in every village and valley.
The legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary endures through initiatives like the Edmund Hillary Foundation, which tirelessly advocates for the welfare of Sherpa communities. These efforts underscore the bonds that form between visitors and locals, often transcending mere acquaintanceship to evolve into lifelong friendships and extended families.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel and tourism sector accounted for 10.4% of global employment in 2019. In 2022, there were 22 million new jobs, representing a 7.9% increase from 2021, and only 11.4% below 2019. Tourism serves as a vital pillar of Nepal’s economy, offering employment opportunities and driving economic growth. Though tourism’s contribution to employment creation in Nepal is below global average, it is showing a remarkable potential.

The fact remains, the sector faces its share of challenges, particularly in the post Covid-19 era. Staff shortages have become a pressing issue, which has been made worse by experienced and trained workforce choosing to leave the country seeking better job opportunities.
Yet, amidst these challenges, Nepal remains steadfast in its commitment to hospitality, following the ancient Sanskrit adage, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (The Guest is God). Whether it’s a chance rendezvous with the former king in a Chitwan resort or a heartwarming exchange with a local villager, visitors are always welcomed with open arms and a warm heart.

As the tourism industry rebounds, addressing staff shortages will be critical to sustaining its growth. Flexible work arrangements, competitive benefits and ongoing skills development are essential strategies to attract and retain talent in the industry. Embracing technological solutions can also streamline operations and enhance the overall visitor experience. Needless to say, the policy makers and leaders of tourism associations must think strategically in order to engage, retain and grow the most precious human capital.

Nepal’s potential as a leading destination in South Asian tourism is undeniable, thanks to its unparalleled natural beauty and the genuine warmth of its people. By fostering an environment where guests are treated like family, Nepal ensures that every visitor departs with memories that linger long after they have returned home.
In the end, Nepal’s beauty lies not only in its majestic mountains but also in the enduring spirit of hospitality that fills every corner of the country. As travellers embark on their journeys, they discover not just a destination but a profound sense of belonging, a testament to Nepal’s status as a land where adventure meets unparalleled hospitality.

Pradhan is a tourism entrepreneur.

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