In its quest to celebrate business excellence in the country and to hold meaningful discourse on topics with long term economic impacts, New Business Age Pvt Ltd has been organising the NewBiz Business Conclave and Awards since 2013. The sixth edition of the event was held at Soaltee Crowne Plaza which saw enthusiastic participation of the country’s eminent business personalities, top level government officials and independent experts. “Tourism to Prosperity” was the theme of this year’s conclave and speeches by keynote speakers and views of panelists were focused on taking the Nepali tourism sector to the next level. As Nepal is on the verge of celebrating Visit Nepal Year 2020, the views of experts offered the participants with much needed insights on how to find ways to meet the 21st century challenges in tourism. Addressing the audience, the event’s chief guest Minister for Finance Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada, highlighted the importance of developing tourism to end poverty in the country. “For a country like Nepal, tourism is the sector with highest potential in terms of employment generation besides agriculture,” he said. According to him, the problems related to income inequality can be resolved by creating adequate jobs as tourism activities are connected to direct income. “The residents of local areas receive large chunks of money spent by tourists who visit their areas. This way, tourism is an effective tool also to distribute wealth,” he mentioned.
Suraj Vaidya, national programme coordinator of Visit Nepal Year 2020 assured the audience that Nepal is ready to welcome the year 2020. “The Visit Nepal Year 2020 has become a national economic agenda. This campaign has presented us with a significant opportunity for new investments, employment generation and opening new destinations,” he said. Similarly, Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board, asked stakeholders to focus their efforts on diversifying Nepali tourism. “Time has come to change the image of Nepali tourism. There is also a need to change Nepal’s image as a seasonal tourist destination. We can utilise our cultural and festivals in tourism promotion so that tourists can visit destinations across the country all-round the year,” he suggested.
Another major highlight of the event was the first panel discussion session titled “Tourism to Prosperity: Sharing Best Practices” in which foreign and domestic experts and Nepali entrepreneurs shared their experiences in tourism development. One of the highlights of the discussion was the presentation of Jens Thraenhart, executive director of Mekong Tourism, a joint initiative of six Mekong River basin countries including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, where he talked about branding in tourism. “We need to understand what does it actually mean to build a brand when you have limited resources,” he said. According to him, the branding of Mekong Tourism was the thing that enabled the region to attract 62 million visitors presently from 30 million in 2010. Similarly, the renowned Bhutanese tourism entrepreneur Sonam Jatso shared Bhutan’s experiences in developing high value tourism. Bounlap Douangphoumy, deputy director general of Marketing at Laos Tourism shared his country’s experience in increasing tourist arrivals by implementing strategic tourism plans. Meanwhile, Shreejana Rana, chairperson at Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) mentioned how Nepali hoteliers are readying for 2020 and beyond.
In the event’s second panel discussion, moderated by Pankaj Pradhananga, director at Four Season Travel and Tours, Nepali entrepreneurs discussed the various aspects of the hotel business, tourism development and finding new ways to provide unique experiences to the visitors in Nepal. Talking about the challenges in the hotel business Upaul Majumdar, general manager of Soaltee Crowne Plaza said, “The challenge exists to present Nepali hotels in global markets. We have not been able to properly promote and brand Nepali hotels and tourism products internationally.” Despite this weakness, he pointed out that a bright future awaits for the Nepali hotel industry with the growing investment in the sector.
Ghanashyam Upadhyaya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation informed the audience about the new initiatives being undertaken by the government for tourism sector development. “It is challenging to gather tourism-related data due to the ‘digital smartness’ of the private sector. So the government is in the process of starting ‘Tourism Satellite Accounting’,” he said, adding that this system, which will be implemented shortly, is expected to help the government get actual statistics in order to understand where Nepali tourism is heading. “It will increase our confidence level to come up with appropriate policies in the future,” he stated.
Namgyal Sherpa, managing director at Yeti World, a Thamserku Group company, shared his views on why Nepal needs high value tourism and why it needs to focus on diversifying the market. “Till date, we have not been able to sell many available products to foreigners. Nepali travel companies are selling similar products like Mt Everest and Annapurna treks. This is why the competition between travel companies in Nepal is so high,” he expressed. According to him, his company is bringing some changes to its business by focusing on high-value tourism. “As it requires investing in new tourism products, we have added new high-end facilities in our six fully facilitated lodges situated at different locations across the Mt Everest region. It not only helps us to identify our capabilities but also to provide unique experiences compared to our competitors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nepal Tourism Board’s former CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha said that more should have been done to manage the high influx of tourists expected for 2020. “There should have been a categorisation of tourists for Visit Nepal Year 2020. If the influx of tourists is focused only on regions such as Kathmandu, Pokhara and Sagarmatha, we will be overwhelmed in terms of our capacity to provide services to them,” he said, adding, “Therefore, it was important to select destinations for tourists to avoid such problems.”
Celebrating Excellence in Business
The last six years have seen a meaningful attempt by New Business Age Pvt Ltd to set new standards in the country’s corporate fraternity by awarding companies that have best management practices, encouraging budding startup businesses and honouring renowned entrepreneurs who have devoted their life to the business sector. This year, 21 companies were awarded in eight different categories. Buddha Air was named the Best Managed Company and Everest Bank Limited bagged the award for the Best Managed Commercial Bank followed by Gandaki Bikas Bank Limited as Best Managed Development Bank, Shree Investment and Finance Company as Best Managed Finance Company, Chhimek Laghubitta Bikas Bank as Best Managed Microfinance Company, Surya Life Insurance Company Limited as Best Managed Life Insurance Company, Sikhar Insurance Company Limited as Best Managed General Insurance Company Limited and Eco Cell Industries as Best Managed Startup Company. Similarly, the Chitwan-based online retailer Mero Kinmel-Chitwan received the Special Recognition to Startup Company award. Likewise, the Lifetime Achievement in Business Excellence award was presented to the legendary hotelier Ambica Shrestha, president of Dwarika’s Hotels and Resorts, for her contributions to the hotel and social sectors.