Need for more women entrepreneurs in tourism-Sharmila Kafle

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When I came from India, everything here in Nepal was different to me. It was not that I didn’t speak Nepali but the culture I was brought up in was totally different. One thing I knew was that I had to work hard. In 1981, I was born in South Indian state of Kerala. And I completed my bachelors degree from Madras University, with major in English literature. In 2004, I came to Nepal. But I was paper blank as what to do to frame my career for economic gain. First I started a cosmetic shop. Later I did teaching too for a period of about  three years. But something always was within my mind that I need to do something different  than this. As soon as I came to Nepal, I came to Kathmandu, the capital. Though My in-laws come from Rupandehi and my parents are from Chitwan; Kathmandu is the place which changed my life. In 2014, I took tour guide training from NATHM and worked as a guide for one year. This paved my way into the world of tourism. Then I started my own business. My dream Apoorva Tours and Travel came into existence. It’s registration took no time. Everything began smoothly. Of course I had to slog a lot. Then I did my Masters in Sociology from PK college. My daughter had grown big and I could focus properly in my business. Now she is doing Civil engineering in Bangalore.

All of them are trained. People do ask me if it is difficult to run a tour and travel business. I always respond them, saying  ‘It depends on the person’.  Some people may find it very simple and smooth; while some may just not survive. Working together in a team has been always fruitful. The most important is the teamwork. And most important of all is the passion. If the person doesn’t  have passion and love towards the business; it may become a big torture instead. Being born in India, I have the privilege of speaking Tamil, Malyalam, English and Hindi. Thus, this has been a plus point to interact with the Indian tourists. The language does create a trust environment and helps in efficient communication with the Indian guests. Here in Nepal, we take them to Muktinath, Pokhara and other places; depending on their choice. We also undertake the expedition to Mansarovar or Kailash. Sometimes the agents from outside are also involved; but it cannot be done without the involvement of Nepalese company.

My family has a remarkable role in my involvement in this sector. And my husband’s role is very encouraging. He has supported me throughout; though he has little time for the business. This is because he is involved in politics. In many cases though the women work full time in the family business; they don’t have the liberty of decision making. However, in my case; the company is registered in my name and I am the sole person responsible for it’s upbringing too. So the challenges and boons are the things I need to handle skillfully. I strongly believe that women should try to become independent themselves. There is a need to bring more women entrepreneurs in tourism. At the present context our number is very less.

The competition is high in tourism industry. It is almost the neck to neck situation. If you don’t succeed in attracting the guests some other company will take them away. So one needs to be very professional, smart, hospitable and creative. Of course competitions are both; unhealthy and healthy. Thus, there is a lot of bargaining, which takes place. This is because there are companies as old as thirty years too. Also fresh entrepreneurs like me are too in large number which are attracted. We have different  tour packages and move as per the wish and plan of the guests too. Most of the times I travel alone. In the twelve months of a year; my four months are spend in India with the guests. In India, I mostly travel to Maharashtra, Gujarat , West Bengal along others. Sometimes, I also carry my staffs along with me to close destinations like Calcutta. This is to allow them the field work and training too. They get an opportunity of practical exposure and also freshness is added in between table work.

Women should not become too dependent on others. The era has changed now. If men can do, why not the women ? As far as Nepal is concerned, it is a safe place for women. People seeking for comfort zones and those unwilling to take risk, can never succeed in life. Now at this stage I have the confidence that I can travel to any part and corner of the world, if required. Both of my siblings are based in the U S; but I have no plans to leave the country. If we use our creativity, there is nothing that our land cannot give us. Entrepreneurs should mainly focus on quality service, hospitality, professionalism and kindness. If such things are not paid heed to; our guests will not choose us next time they visit  Nepal. So though it our business; we should not be totally commercial in nature. We should respect and look into the proper business promotion; being a part of the Nepal Tourism Board. At the end, the Government has announced Visit Nepal 2020 and it is our duty too as tourism entrepreneurs to make it a grand success.