Travel agencies need to hire qualified tourist guides-Nishan Pradhan, Member-Nepal Chinese Guide Association

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After my college graduation in English and Economics from Tri Chandra College, I joined campus of International Languages to study Chinese language. I completed the advance level course in 1998. During that time, we didn’t have many Chinese tourists from mainland China. Only the handful of Chinese speaking guides were active in handling the tourists coming from Taiwan, Hong kong, Singapore, etc. The reason behind my learning Chinese was because my two elder brothers went to China on scholarship for their further studies. Although I couldn’t manage to get higher education abroad, learning Chinese somehow became blessing in disguise for me.

Right after the completion of Chinese language course, I took a training of ‘Tourist Guide’ offered by HMTTC, now known as NATTHM. Initially, I handled half day tour, day tour and gradually handled round trips too. I am very thankful to my friend Ramesh Silwal, my Chinese language classmate who worked for Fewa Tours and Travels. He referred me to his company to hire me to handle a group coming from Taiwan. There were only few groups a year, so we had plenty of leisure time. Only about 2/3 months we are engaged, the rest of the time I spent learning other languages and also completed my Master’s degree in between. My major subject was Anthropology. Well, I do speak basic Japanese, Spanish and German Languages too.

Born in a city of fine arts, Lalitpur, I came from a middle class family. I still remember my father came home very late after overtime in office. He used to bring back the newspapers too. With my mother’s blessing and my father’s great effort in providing us good education I am an independent freelance tour guide now.

Actually, before working as a tour guide, I started my carrier as a primary school teacher in my friend’s school of Sunakothi Village. Whenever I handled the tourists, they seemed to me my kindergarten students and my aged parents. I never compromised on the service that I could give to them. In return, I learned more language skills, cultural aspects, good habit and many other behavioral patterns.

Regarding the flow of Chinese tourists from mainland China, it has become great potential for the development of Nepal’s tourism industry. It is just about 18 years after the approval of seven countries that Chinese citizens may visit and travel Nepal was also listed in it by Chinese government.

 

I still remember the group of 8 representatives from Chinese tour operators who came to Nepal for market promotion. The tour was organized by ‘Shiva Treks’. This travel agency hired me as a tour guide. In this familiarization trip, we went to all the heritage sites of Kathmandu and also visited Chitwan, Lumbini and Pokhara. Although, they were not satisfied with the poor infrastructure then, they were committed and keen to promote Nepal because the tourist attractions and travel destinations in our country are of great historic essence, majestic landscape with spell binding Himalayan ranges and uniqueness in diversity in many aspects which couldn’t be found elsewhere.

With the continuous effort of governmental, nongovernmental organizations, international community and private sectors too our tourism industry is flourishing day by day. Now, we have quite impressive number of Chinese tourists in our country. And this is the right time to emphasize on quality tourism so that it contributes in uplifting the standard of local people’s living, conservation of our heritages, and protection of ecology and further improvement of basic infrastructures and playing role in bringing in multiplier effect in our economy. In contrary to it, the threat brought upon by the cut throat competition, exploitation in remunerations, wages, tipping, poor service due to the use of unauthorized, unprofessional non license holder people as guides will have long term negative impact in the whole industry.

Recently, the Chinese Embassy had held an interaction program with NECGA (Nepal Chinese Guide Association) regarding the safety precautions of Chinese tourists, the service and other related problems faced by them. As a member of this association, NECGA, I would like to request all concerned body not to compromise on quality service and always seek for optimum benefit.

I would also like to draw your attention on how blind could one be in the case of illogical imposition of tax at two different places from each tourists on the way from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot. Lack of proper parking place, clean toilets and tourists unfriendly access to heritage sites and many other minor problems could be solved with little effort.

As an optimistic citizen and tourist guide, I always think, change is possible. I wish like Bagmati clean up Campaign, our heritages clean up, conservation campaign be initiated. All the stakeholders in tourism industry has to wake up to revive our past glory. Save our country by being cheap destination but rather luxurious destination.

It’s a request to the entire related municipality to make an arrangement at entrance counter to make record of tourists’ nationality, no of pax, name of the guide with license no. and travel agency’s name. This could be very helpful in data collection, information and for their safety too. This may also play a role in discouraging fake guides.

When I started working as tourist guide, it was merely a hobby. Now, it has become my occupation. It’s a tough job mentally, physically and psychologically but I enjoy a lot. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my wife for all the support and care during my hardship and love to my two pretty daughters. They never complain about absence at home due to my job nature. Indeed family plays a vital role in the success behind a person.

“Neither I am a medical doctor, nor an engineer,

Neither I am involved in business, nor in politics,

Neither I am a monk, nor r teacher,

But still enjoy being a guide, the free lancer”