For ages, we have known Nepal to be a country with tremendous tourism prospects. We had been bringing in a decent amount of tourists every year until the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The entire tourism sector is in turmoil now and the revival process has to begin soon to sustain close to one million people directly associated with tourism for livelihood. New travel startups in Nepal can be very helpful in supporting the tourism sector in these tough times.
Despite all the opportunities that in the tourism sector, we have not been able to capitalize on them fully due to less number of travel startups in Nepal. We are way behind and there is so much that can be done and for that need innovative and passionate travel entrepreneurs to tap this huge market and make the most out of it for themselves and the nation.
The major problem that I found to be hindering the growth of tourism in Nepal lies in the marketing, especially online. Nepal has to focus on showing itself as a country with breathtaking beauty and heart-throbbing adventure with unmatchable culture and the sweetest people.
We still rarely feature on best travel magazines and blogs. We do not have the best travel vloggers coming to Nepal and showcasing our beauty to a larger audience. If you do not believe, google for best spiritual destinations, best adventure travel destinations or similar keywords and see if you can find Nepal in any of the articles. We literally have everything on a silver platter, we just have to present it to the world and this is what makes it one of the easiest and most accessible entrepreneurship choice for people (and fun too! I would kill for a job that would let me travel).
For writing this article, I wrote to the Ghumante team asking for their opinion and Kanchan Rai, Founder and Traveller at Ghumante very humbly agreed to share his thoughts. We talked about his experience as a traveler in Nepal, what are the problems in the current tourism system, how can they be solved and the immense opportunities for travel startups in Nepal. For the full transcript of the talk please follow this link.
1. Spiritual tourism – As a mountainous, peaceful country along with the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the place where Lord Rama and Sita got married in mithila and uncountable hindu temples, there are endless opportunities for us to market ourselves as the best country for spiritual tourism to not just Buddhist audience but to Hindu audience as well. But sadly we are not a popular choice in the spiritual tourism area due to the lack of promotion and hence remain highly underrated.
For example, if we can design a 7- 14-day stay in Nepal with living in the mountains alone or with local people, yoga and meditation at beautiful mountain sunrise, visiting holy places, healthy meals, training and classes with gurus and monks to clear their minds spiritually, spreading mindfulness and serenity it will be crazy! It wouldn’t even take much of the effort because we already have our USP in place, all we need to do is to make a business model around it.
2. Itinerary-less travel – With almost all existing travel companies and tour operators in Nepal providing a rigid itinerary based travel plans, tourists these days look for an option that will not put them in a box and allow them to explore the place at their own pace, interact with the locals, experience the vibe and cilture of the place.
So, if you create a company or a service that will help people explore the places randomly, talk to people and stay wherever they like, and go wherever they want and create a more nomadic experience for them filled with thrill and adventure, it could be something amazing. This also means that the travel startups in Nepal should study the market well and understand the needs of the tourists coming to our country and then design their services and products.
3. Adventure Tourism – In this segment, we are doing relatively well. We get millions of tourists wanting to get into an adventurous experience like trekking, rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing, even cliff-jumping. It seems as though Nepal’s geography has been specially carved out for beauty and adventure. However, there is a room for travel entrepreneurs to come and entirely revamp this sector for the better.
If you look at top travel blogs for adventure tourism, Nepal’s name is nowhere to be found despite having 8/10 tallest mountain peaks of the world. We need to organize the adventure spots and sports and make it easier for the tourists to find out. On this matter, kanchan says that the prospects for travel startups are the highest in the adventure travel space. With new sports being launched these days, like Bungee jumping, Canyoning, skiing and kayaking things are getting better on the infrastructural level we just need to work on the promotional thing.
4. Wedding Tourism – The number of people wanting to marry in a beautiful place is insane! Countries like Thailand and Bali have been capitalizing on this opportunity in the name of destination wedding for years now and it’s not like we do not enough beauty to make it happen. All we need is a proper system, a marketing plan to spread the word and build basic infrastructure to make it happen. Nepal already has one of the best filmmaker communities in Asia with filmamkers like Abin Bho, Jholey, Manish Maharjan and others and we can shoot wedding videos like a fairytale. It’s time travel entrepreneurs do justice with this immense opportunity.
5. Culture Tourism – We have so many cultural activities that we can “sell” to the people outside. Like the Gai Jatra and the Chhath festival Dashain and Holi. We can even create a man-made culture for the sake of enjoyment, not all fun activities have to have a religious or cultural significance like the La-tomatino festival or maybe we can organize a large festival on Buddha Jayanti or the day when Lord ram and Sita got married in Janakpur. Tourists love to visit places with rich culture and loving people and fortunately, we have it all in Nepal.
“Every small lake and temple has a story in Nepal that locals believe, we need to use its power and create a brand to make it appealing to tourists”, says Kanchan. We need to smartly let people know about these festivals and our cultures and make sure that they have a great time experiencing them here and that can only be expected to be done by travel startups in Nepal since the government has a narrow vision to say the least and is extremely slow on bringing innovative campaigns.
6. Rural Tourism – As weird as it sounds, but people actually pay a lot of money to see people living in rural village and experience the same lifestyle even if it is just for a couple of days. If you look at the villages in the Farwest of Nepal, they carry mad potential for rural tourism in Nepal.
“In Ghumante, you might see that we visit rural places that are far from the mainstream tourism attention and we are awestruck by the beauty and by the people. We spend weeks and months at such places with locals and have such a great experience and often think that other people should get the opportunity to visit such places too” adds Rai.
These were basic opportunities that I could find, there lies many more undiscovered opportunities. If travel and entrepreneurship fascinate you, this might be it, maybe this is your calling! I suggest you pack your bags and set off to explore the opportunities yourself (post-COVID, please). You can always reach out to me or the Ghumante team to help you with your ideas. Read the full talk I had with kanchan below, it’s something that will help you understand the travel space of Nepal from inside.
In talks with Kanchan Rai, Founder, Ghumante
Kanchan Rai is the man behind Ghumante, the amazing group of travelers, videographers, vloggers and photographers. He talks about his travel experiences, the entrepreneurial opportunities in the travel space, the current problems in the tourism sector in Nepal that can be solved by dyanmic and innovative entrepreneurs.