TNW: How is your travel agency doing right now? How is tourism business going on ?
Sharmila: Tourism business is going all right in this season. Our travel agency – Apoorva Tours and Travel – was registered in 2015. Since then we have been organizing tours mainly for Indians. We did well in the last season after we got rid of Covid – 19 pandemic. In this September-October the business is going normal, but a bit slower.
TNW: What is the focus of your business?
Sharmila: Our main focus is Indian travellers. Some of them are religious tourists or pilgrims while others prefer going for trekking or engaging in other activities. Our main focus is operating tours for Indian nationals indifferent destinations within Nepal.
TNW: In which cities of India do you focus for marketing purpose?
Sharmila: We mainly focus on South India, Maharastra and Gujarat. We focus on quality rather than quantity. We also do provide guidance to those Nepalese travellers who wish to visit India.
TNW: How difficult or easy it to deal with Indian tourists?
Sharmila: We should try to understand their feelings and assess their needs. We need to treat them differently unlike other foreign tourists. They have high demands, therefore, it is somehow tougher to deal with them.
TNW: What challenges and problems you need to face for attracting more Indian tourists in Nepal?
Sharmila: Construction of good motorable roads is the main challenge in my opinion. They don’t need passport, the voter ID car is enough for them to travel within Nepal. However, the main problem is good and roads that are maintained from time to time. Because a large number of Indians prefer road transport rather than air travel while visiting Nepal. Another problem is permission to carry limited amount of Indian currency that is Rs. 25,000, which is insufficient. The cash limit should be increased to attract more Indian visitors to Nepal. If they want to spend more then why shouldn’t we increase the limit? They cannot explore Nepal properly due to the limitation imposed on carrying Indian currency during the travel.
TNW: What are the main attractions for India visitors in Nepal ?
Sharmila: Besides Pashupatinath and Kathmandu city, these days the Indian visitors are also attracted to Muktinath. The regular Indian tourists prefer to visit mainly Kathmandu, CHitawan and Pokhara. Besides, these they are also attracted to Janakpur and Lumbini as well.
TNW: What are your new plans for tourism promotion?
Sharmila: If Kailash – Mansarovar route opens for Indians then next year we will also operate these destinations. We can also promote other destinations as alternate destinations. But the main problem is availability of transportation. THere are many other destinations in Nepal which can be promoted, but the roads are narrow, dangerous and lack proper maintenance. The younger generation coming from India prefer adventurous activities, but the access is very limited for them. The road connection between Lumbini to Chitawan and from Kathmandu to Pokhara both are in bad condition, so they need to be maintained timely.
TNW: What is the possibility of promoting honeymoon trips for Indians in Nepal?
Sharmila: Nepal is very much attractive for wedding destination or those wishing to have a honeymoon trip. But we need to build proper infrastructure including good motorable roads.
TNW: Do you want to convey any message through this weekly?
Sharmila: After the Covid – 19 pandemic is over we are gradually improving. I want to convey the message that Nepal is safe for Indian tourists including women. Women can also easily participate in adventurous activities such as trekking, bungy jump and mountain biking in Nepal. However, we need to increase the number of women guides for the purpose.