Catalyst for the responsible development of tourism: Sunil Shakya

13th Mar, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is an international non-profit organization which works for the development of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region. PATA works with various different organizations in the region to organize travel marts and other events to provide opportunities for travel professionals to connect with each other. Sunil Shakya is the President of the Nepal Chapter of PATA, who has also been involved in the tourism sector of Nepal for a long time. Our correspondent, Juliana Shah, met with Mr. Shakya to discuss his current projects and ideas for the organization.


Q: Could you please give us a brief introduction about the objectives and travel trends of PATA?

Sunil : Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a non-profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism within the Asia Pacific region. The association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organizations, comprising 95 governments, state and city tourism bodies, 25 international airlines and airports, 108 hospitality organizations, 72 educational institutions, and hundreds of travel industry companies in Asia Pacific and beyond.

PATA’s priorities is to build business for members, to provide valuable insights, forecasts and analysis to help members make better business decisions and to take a lead on travel industry issues those need to be addressed. PATA has a partnership with the world’s major Travel & Tourism organizations including ACI, CLIA, IATA, ICAO, WEF, UNWTO and WTTC in order to ensure that the tourism industry speaks with one voice and acts in unison on the major issues worldwide. Since 1951 PATA has led from the front as the leading voice and authority on travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region. In partnership with private and public sector members, PATA enhances the sustainable growth, value and quality of travel and tourism to-from-and-within, the region. The Association also provides leadership and counsel on an individual and collective basis to its member organizations. PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC) offers unrivalled data and insights including Asia Pacific inbound and outbound statistics, analyses and forecasts as well as in-depth reports on strategic tourism markets. PATA’s events create millions of dollars of new business each year for its members. The PATA Foundation contributes to the sustainable and responsible development of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific through the protection of the environment, the conservation of heritage and support for education. Thousands of travel professionals belong to 36 active PATA chapters worldwide and participate in a wide range of PATA and industry events. The chapters organize travel industry training, business development, and tourism promotion events. PATA Nepal Chapter is one of them, and it has become one and only full-fledged tourism association in Nepal since its inception in 1975, encompassing almost all stakeholders of Nepali tourism (from both public and private sector).


Q: Is the government helping you in ‘Vision Five Million Campaign’ or is the political situation of the country becoming a barrier?

Sunil : PATA Nepal Chapter has taken this initiative of “Vision 5 Million” to work as a partner in collaboration with all the stakeholders from the public and private sector. Since the Govt. is the only entity or body that can only make the implementation of tasks or missions that have been aligned to achieve the target of 5 Million Tourists by 2030, our role is to lobby with the government and other key stakeholders with a Strategic Planning which we are capable of with the resources, expertise, and experience that PATA has done worldwide. Definitely, Stability of the government is a very crucial element for this campaign and we are very hopeful that the present scenario of stable government and its commitment for developing the country with tourism development in the same line with our mission shall be instrumental for the cause.


Q: What plans are you going to implement to make this campaign a success and is the campaign flourishing?

Sunil : Recently, we have formulated the Preliminary Concept Paper on “Vision 5 Million” where we have outlined 6 major areas as Six Missions to work on within the due course of time. They are: Infrastructure Development, Aviation strengthening, Policy reform, Human Capital Development, Marketing – extensive and market focused and Research, Product Development and service standardization.


Q: What kind of changes would you like to see and what kind of new policies would you like to implement in the two years of your work tenure?

Sunil : Several positive developments were found to be underway in Nepal that made us initiate the advocacy for the target of 5 Million by 2030. Those factors are: stable political condition in Nepal, macroeconomic condition of the country, increased air services, connectivity and subsequent reduction in airfares, initiation and completion of 3 major international/regional airports; increased road networks in the country, development and initiation of railways, progress of some key Nation’s Pride Projects, including – Fast track linking Kathmandu to Terai, Mid-hill Highway, East-West Railway, North-south Corridor, etc. , Increased tourist traffic post-earthquake,  Rise of Asian economies (increased GDP, disposable earnings, and willingness to travel), mainly – India, China and the ASEAN countries, Increased tourism growth in Asia and the Pacific (mainly India, China and the ASEAN market), and Restructuring of state policy, and other associated reforms in line with the federal structure of the country and so on. PATA has a mechanism that it’s driving forces always carry on the legacy of the legacy of the institutions and the missions envisaged for Vision 5 Million has to be carried on even after my tenure. So, my focus is to work on with this spirit and continue to provide my contribution wherever and whenever the association and the nation need.


Q:  What are the possible challenges faced by the tourism sector of Nepal and how has this organization participated in solving those problems?

Sunil : PATA Nepal Chapter since its inception has been acclaimed as the leading association to promote the nation’s tourism in the international market as well as work for the sustainable development of the tourism industry in the country. Few initiatives among many are: organization of international marts/ conferences in the country, tourism development plan for the destination Pokhara and formulation of Tourism Rapid Recovery Action Plan after the earthquake of 2015. Everyone knows the challenges or hindrances of Nepali tourism sector. But, our association well understands the ways to overcome the crisis or problems being faced by the industry and always dedicated and keen to work with government, NTB and other stakeholders in resolving those problems.     


Q: The first Himalayan Mart was a success. How are you planning to execute the 2nd Himalayan Mart?

Sunil : Yes; the HTM 2017 was a grand success featuring 225 foreign delegates from 53 countries, 350+ local participants, 107 Int’l Travel Bloggers and Media delegates, 15+ high-value speakers, 74 international buyers, 50+ sellers from Nepal and International market, 1500+ pre-matched business appointments and so on. I don’t think this sort of event has happened so far in this region. So we are delighted to organize the 2nd edition of HTM from June 1-3 in Kathmandu, where we are planning to upscale the event in terms of quality Buyers and diversifying the event attractions for the participants.HTM 2018, as a unique B2B (Business to Business) event for the Himalayan Tourism Industry, shall continue to avail the remarkable gathering of Global Buyers, Himalayan Sellers, Travel Bloggers, National and International Media, Travel Industry Professionals and Delegates focused on different aspects of the Himalayan Tourism; facilitating them  a platform for networking, shared knowledge, valuable insights and business opportunities.


Q: Would you like to share some personal experience or suggestion in improving tourism sector of Nepal?

A: It’s been a long time I have been involved in this tourism sector for me, it’s like a family business which is celebrating 50 years now. Since my early childhood we started Kathmandu Guest House which slowly the business started to flourish around the Kathmandu valley. 10 years ago, aviation was my passion before I joined this business. Slowly and gradually we expanded hotels. This journey has been tough as well as progressive. We also have expanded hotels in Lumbini, likewise we have established two hotels in Pokhara, and we are also planning to increase the capacity of the hotels and establishing new hotels in main hubs. We are very optimistic about tourism though there are some challenges. The main thing is the government should have stable government policies. Tourism is a main key which absorbs jobs and other social economics so it must be developed.