Kanchan Rai, A creative and humble soul, a Ghumante by heart and traveler by profession is the man behind Ghumante. Ghumante is a group of Travel Enthusiasts, Photographers, and Adventurers who love traveling in and around Nepal, mostly lesser-known places and share their Stories. They have just crossed the 100k subs milestone on youtube. Kanchan Rai is not just the Founder at Ghumante but Videographer, Vlogger, Video Editor, Script Writer, and Director too!
In this talk, we discuss about his experiences as a traveler in Nepal, the problems in the tourism sector currently, how can they be solved, what role can travel entrepreneurs play and How can we systematically make Nepal known to the world as a must-travel country resulting in the overall tourism development. To read the article written based on this talk, click here.
Kritagya – Thank you so much for taking the time. It’s a pleasure having you here.
Kanchan – Thank you for inviting me.
Kritagya – Let’s get to it then. Having traveled to so many places in Nepal and abroad, You understand travel and tourism from the inside. What do you think, why have we failed to establish ourselves as a major tourism-centered country despite having so much of opportunities?
Kanchan – OK, I’m not sure where to start, but I think the major problem lies in the way we promote our country. You know, as I remember back in 1998, we had Visit Nepal 1998 Campaign and we had destinations like Everest base camp, Annapurna base camp, and a few other places. Now again, in Visit Nepal 2020 Campaign before the pandemic, we had the same destinations, maybe a few destinations were added, but we didn’t have anything new or anything exciting planned or organised. And then the way we market these campaigns, I think it was the wrong approach. We fail to reach huge masses interested in traveling.
Kritagya – Is it something the government should work upon?
Kanchan – No, I’m not sure we can expect the government to do something, because from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, the popular places people go to in Nepal, those are also not promoted by the government. Its just that people started going there. So the locals and some businessmen started building hotels and the places became more accessible.
Kritagya – So that leaves a lot of room for travel entrepreneurs to pitch in. Why do we still see very few travel entrepreneurs in Nepal?
Kanchan – Yeah, definitely. As I travel especially to places that are remote and are not well known. So I see a lot of potential in those places. I think entrepreneurs are afraid to take risks. That’s the first one. And then the second point is the remoteness of the area, They need to visit these places to understand the massive opportunities that they hold. Also, I believe there are very few people with an understanding of tourism and travel industry.
Kritagya – In remote places, do we have basic good infrastructure like the roads and electricity to make it accessible for travelers.
Kanchan – Not all of them, but I think that’s a gradual process, you know, even now some of the most famous destinations, do not have such infrastructures and that is why they are famous. So even if a place does not have infrastructures that travel agencies and travel guides, they run camping trips. Right? So we can start with those in absolute remote places. Also once people start doing camping trips, the locals and the businesses in that area will notice they will slowly start building hotels, tea houses, and shops on the way and eventually proper road connectivity and other infrastructures will be built.
Kritagya – Moving on, As I researched about the top countries to visit for adventure, Nepal wasn’t listed anywhere? Is it again because of a lack of promotion or is there any other reason?
Kanchan – I think I have to agree we haven’t promoted ourselves very well and also the adventure in our country is mostly limited to mountaineering. But a few steps are being taken right now that I hope will propel our country into a proper, adventurous nation, like the opening of a new bungee jumping in Kushma and there are a few canyoning places in our country as well. There are huge prospects of skiing, although it’s in very early stages, but we could also promote like very high-risk adventure skiing or normal skiing.
I don’t know if it is still continued or not, but they had skydiving in Pokhara and Everest. I think skydiving has a lot of potential in our country. You know, like when we jump from the sky, we do have amazing views know. So I don’t know why it’s not done. But as you can see, it’s expensive for private parties to run it by themselves. And there are so many legal issues and, you know, government restrictions, waterfalls, cliffs, those are government properties. So a partnership is required among the parties. And I forgot to add watersports sports as well, like rafting, kayaking, Nepal is a great destination for such activities too.
Kritagya – Right. Awesome. Nepal is also a country with spiritual importance. However, the same problem as of adventure, we are not seen as among the best places to visit for spiritual tourism. There are places like Bodhgaya in India and Japan famous for Buddhist tourism but not Lumbini. Surely there are promotion problems, what else? Is Lumbini also lacking in infrastructure?
Kanchan – So one thing as you said it’s the lack of promotion, also, sometimes questions arise as to where Buddha was actually born so we need to put it out there once and for all that Buddha was born in Nepal and not just reciprocate when another nation claims that Buddha was born in their country. Sadly, we don’t even have a proper documentary or movie about Lord Buddha and his life.
So that that’s one side, then there’s the infrastructure part, I don’t think Lumbini lacks in that area but maybe what I think is we don’t need any more infrastructure. I mean, we have to keep it intact and just protect it as it was before so that people can find peace.
There are so many constructions is going on over there.
And I heard that the things that have been there, of historical importance are getting displaced because of the construction of some three-star or five-star hotel in the area. I am not sure of the source. I will have to look that up.
We should focus is like making sure that the vibe of the area, the open spaces, and things of historical and religious importance should be protected so that people can feel know they are still in the same room or the area that Buddha walked by. Even if you look at the Buddhist scriptures, there are four places I guess, a Buddhist should visit before they die and the first place is actually Lumbini. Similarly, Mithila in Terai holds a lot of historiacl and religious imprtance for hindus. We need to utilize those places as well to invite hindu tourists.
Kritagya – What do you think about the current companies working in travel field? There were no mindblowing startups in travel industry as there have been in few other sectors in Nepal. Most travel businesses are just travel agencies.
Kanchan – Yes, that’s right. We only have travel agencies in Nepal at least I have also only heard of them. Their job is only to book your tickets, show the already famous places but we need entrepreneurs who can take it to the next level. To dig out new places to travel and introduce new things to do even invite new people to Nepal, we need strong and innovative entrepreneurs. Like you have mentioned the opportunities in rural tourism for Nepal, There are so many things that can be done in that area. We go to such places and spend weeks and months with the local and have the best times. Many businesses can florish from this area.
Kritagya – So, Can Ghumante help aspiring travel entrepreneurs to start their businesses?
Kanchan. Yes, of course, In fact, we look for those kind of people and try to support them as well.
Kritagya – That that is what I was thinking. You guys can play a big role in helping these aspiring entrepreneurs because you have a lot of experience, you can easily guide them in many ways.
Kanchan – Yes, we would love to. And we you know, like whenever we visit some places, we we stay with those people for like about a week or so and then we we plan, discuss and even consult them on a lot of things. So hopefully in the future days we will see some positive changes.
Kritagya – Awesome. I guess we are done then. Is there something else we can add to this list of prospects?
Kanchan – I think you have covered almost all the areas. One thing I want I would like to add is like, you know, the seasonal visits, you know, like the same place in winter, the same place in summer, the same place in monsoon. It is absolute beauty to see the same place so different in the span of a few months.
Kritagya – Wow. sounds so cool. Can you think of an example of one of those places in Nepal?
Kanchan – I guess Gosainkunda is one such place. It has wildflowers and greenery in summers, absolutely beautiful. And in winters it is filled with mesmerising snow. Then there is monsoon, you know places like these.
There are still some countries do not even have like two seasons or three seasons. We have six seasons. So we could promote from that aspect also. It’s like a completely different world. You know, when you visit in a different season.
Kritagya – Awesome. I guess we are done with my questions. Thank you so much for doing this. This was very helpful.
Kanchan – I am glad I could be of help.
Kritagya – *random fangirl blabbering about how much I love their blogs and youtube videos*
Kanchan – *humble replies*
Prospects for Travel startups in Nepal
Nepal carries enormous amount of opportunities in the travel and tourism space. Despite having everything on a silver platter, we have failed to utilize the prospects well due to lack of travel entrepreneurs. This blog talks about the the entrepreneurial prospects in the tourisma nd travel space of Nepal in talks with Kanchan Rai, Ghumnate.