There is an immense scope for opportunities in travel tourism and sector in Nepal: Ramesh PoudelIn this interview with Krishana Prasain, Poudel discusses the current situation for workers and employment opportunities in the travel and tourism sector. With more than two decades’ experience, Poudel lays out the basic skills required to make it in the travel industry.
Nepal government is planning to bring two million tourists in the year 2020. This is both an opportunity and challenge for Nepal’s travel and tourism sector. To be able to host such a large number of tourists, the country needs a robust and skilled professional workforce. Ramesh Poudel, managing director of Bon Holidays Pvt Ltd, says there is a huge space for young people to build careers in the booming industry. In this interview with Krishana Prasain, Poudel discusses the current situation for workers and employment opportunities in the travel and tourism sector. With more than two decades’ experience, Poudel lays out the basic skills required to make it in the travel industry. Excerpts:
Nepal’s tourism sector has immense potential. Do we have enough trained professionals to tap into it?
The current travel and tourism sector’s workforce is not fully-trained. Even today, many companies are hiring foreigners for their top-level positions. But, in recent years, there have been various university and technical courses developed which have become instrumental in building a labour force able to cater to the sector. But, unfortunately, these graduates have been choosing to go abroad and this adds to the already scarce workforce.
What can be done to fulfill the staffing needs in the sector?
There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to handling the management of flights, as well as travel itineraries. However, there are not many opportunities to upskill within the current workforce.
In order to change this, Department of Labour will be introducing various practical courses to develop the skills of those interested in this sector. The fresh graduates of these programmes, which will be organised in partnership with North Atlantic Tourism Association, will have guaranteed job placement too. Such types of public-private training programmes are in the pipeline to meet the government’s target to host two million tourists in 2020. Such programmes will also bolster the overall development of this sector in the long run.
How many people are working for Bon Holidays? How do you manage your employees?
We have more than 50 employees working at Bon Holidays, currently. In order to maintain our quality of service, we regularly provide training to our employees, including weekend getaways to keep them motivated. We also send our senior-level staff members abroad, to trade fairs, where they can learn from the international scene.
Other than academic qualifications, what other skills are required to work in the travel and tourism sector?
Practical knowledge is most valuable to the sector. To be able to work efficiently in travel and tourism, having strong communication skills is imperative. Workers should be well-versed in basic travel agency and tour management, as well as social media, to enable significant career growth.
What do you think candidates lack, from what you have seen while hiring? How can it be improved?
Although recent graduates have academic qualifications, talent and skills, I feel they lack sincerity. Many young people who want to make a career in travel and tourism are mainly focused on going overseas for employment. Perhaps this is why they aren’t as focused on their responsibilities as we expect them to be.
There is a mushrooming of colleges offering courses related to hospitality, travel and tourism in Nepal. What do you think of this trend?
There are a lot of colleges that offer such courses but I have found many are not providing enough practical knowledge, which should be an integral part of their programmes. Due to this, many young people have to enrol in institutes to get the training they didn’t get in their academic education. In order to fix this, universities and colleges need to consult with industry insiders while developing the curriculum.
Recent graduates are mostly attracted to take part in internships at airports too. While they gain knowledge about basic operations, trainees do not get opportunities to learn to multi-task or handle multiple responsibilities.
What would you advise young people who plan to start a career in the travel and tourism sector?
Preparedness and determination is the key to success. There is an immense scope for opportunities within this sector, especially in Nepal. There has been a rise of foreigners coming here to start businesses, while many young Nepalis are moving abroad to pursue similar careers. But, I would suggest, instead of planning to work overseas, it is high time they explore their career prospects here.