Local Entrepreneurship should be developed                            Debi Krishna Rokaya- Rara Conservation activist and tourism entrepreneur

Interview

Since when had you been the convener of Nepal Tourism Entrepreneur Organization of Karnali province ?

-It has been around a year, I have been allocated the responsibility. And now since the two communist parties have merged together, there will be changes in the party structure of all the organizations.

You look quite young, how old are you ?

-Well, I am 24 year old now.

 

What was your age when you entered the tourism Industry?

-In the earlier years, I had actually only social involvement. I used to make awareness about the significance of tourism in raising the standard of the people. This was quite natural because I hail from the place where Rara is located. So Rara would always attract me. I would converse with it for hours. I felt as if it sat there complaining. Rara would stay calm and look at me in expectation. I would feel as if I had a great responsibility connected with Rara.

In 2071 BS, I got an opportunity of the Government service as a forester after appearing in the Public Service examination. But I didn’t go for it. Because I began to think that if we preserve Rara and develop different tourism programs related to it, then thousands of youths would be benefited. So I decided to wholly devote myself towards the tourism sector with Rara at the centre. So my pace of work began to take a speed. We established the Rara Tourism Development Committee. I am the chairperson of committee. We developed different trekking trails, trained the local people, formed home-stays etc.

How do you sustain in your private life?  

-Well, I have my own Rara Adventure Private Limited. It deals with the travel and tour package and also trekking along the route. It has branches in different cities. We also have a Rara Community Lodge near the lake. It has 31 bed and 29 tent capacity and can accommodate hundred people.

 So what are the expenses for Rara package?

-As per our Rara adventure price, for air package (3 nights and 4 days) it costs 45 thousand rupees. That comes for total expenses including travel expense, food, lodge etc. Where as for the by road tour(1 week) it costs around 22 thousand rupees.

How about foreign investment in the region?

-We welcome them all here in Mugu. But certain rules should be made and the priority be given to the locals first, since they are the sons and daughters of the land. Their living standard should be raised first and they deserve it. A powerful Rara Tourism Development Authority should be formed for the overall development of the tourism sector in the region.

So you think Rara can raise the standard of living of local people?

-First of all they should know what is tourism. Awareness should be raised among the people regarding it. Along with it eco-tourism should be developed. The local products should be introduced in the food and other commercial purposes. The locals should be made the shareholders in every endeavor around the region. Home stays and community lodges should be developed.

Likewise, boating around the Rara lake is not all enough. The local culture should be displayed and other natural attractions around the region should be listed and developed. These activities could help in elongating the stays of the visitors. Jungle safari, paragliding along other adventurous activities should be developed. The community should be given priority. Community lodges should be established along the route from Surkhet to Mugu, so that the locals can also benefit.

What is the condition of the youths?   

Only three of us have the bachelor certificates in the village around the Rara lake. There are 70 households in the village. Some of youths are send to urban areas for education. Some drop out in between due to lack of resources and return back. They don’t find future in the village and take up drinking. Outsiders come and lure them of cash amount. And some of them have sold most of their land. So the productivity is at a loss failing to recognize their efficiency and the gift of Rara to all the natives.

How about the health facilities?

-There is no single health post in the Rara region. So people lose their life in the absence of merely a cetamol. So poor people have no other option. Women lose their life during childbirth. Now, tell me why the tourist will wish to visit such a risky place? The state needs to pay heed to such bitter situation in this beautiful land.

What are the things to be done with priority?

Roads should be developed first. The 84 km Nakcha Lagna road connecting the Chinese border should be developed. So the cheaper goods could be brought from there. Also the medicinal herbs could be exported to China from there. An air ambulance should be always kept stand by as there is no hospital in the area. There should be proper collection of tourism data like the number of airplanes, lodges, hotels, home stays etc in the region.

And what the state should do?

-Every leader says that tourism and hydro can transform the country. But they need to know that for hydro development of 1 megawatt, it requires 20 crores of rupees and a time of around 5-10 years. But for tourism, it is an industry with low budget investment and it never ends and will remain until we have the Mt. Everest and lakes like Rara. So awareness about tourism development should be raised among the people. Even today there are some mountains and lakes who are not named yet. So a master plan is a must for the overall development of the region.