With Nepal gearing up for Visit Nepal 2020, preparations are going at a rapid pace. An important agenda undertaken by the government to promote the Nepali tourism sector, Visit Nepal 2020 will send waves of Nepali hospitality and service throughout the world. For a plan of such magnitude, the hospitality sector and others will need to step up their game in anticipation of serving and catering to the millions of tourists that will flock to Nepal. ECS Nepal spoke with Shreejana Rana, President of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), about her accomplishment as the first female President of HAN and about the issues and readiness of the hospitality sector for Visit Nepal 2020, as well as about her plans to ensure better service and efficiency in the sector.
Being the first is hard but being the first female is even harder; Shreejana Rana broke the glass ceiling of the hospitality sector by being the first female President of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), a proud moment for her, and she has nothing but gratitude towards those who chose her for this position. “The board was very welcoming, I did not really feel that being a women I would have to prove my position by working extra hard. It was probably because they saw my determination, my hard work,” she shares. With such a responsibility on her shoulders, she knew she had to bring about changes to the association. HAN, she explains, has always been a hardworking organization that promotes Nepal’s tourism by introducing new trends and organizing national events with international tourism boards and the government; it’s a deep regret that this stopped during the insurgency period here. “Since the insurgency period ended, there was lots of politics going on in the sector but now we have passed that hurdle and are working towards an economic agenda that will help bring about changes,” she says.
Explaining how and what she’s working towards as the new president, Shreejana Rana says, “I have always believed in a very strong system. I am trying to structure HAN as an organization, and promote a sense of belonging for everyone by making members feel as one.” She explains how she wants to understand the concerns of her members and work towards addressing those, as HAN is a platform where people come together and address issues jointly, which ultimately makes the association much stronger. “I am a President who will not just sit for a meeting, address all these problems and not do anything. I want to document everything and based on that documentation, I want to move forward,” she shares. Without looking back and not caring about pleasing everyone and not wanting to be a yes person, Shreejana Rana is turning the tide in the hospitality sector with her can-do attitude and determination. Looking back at the best qualities of past presidents, she is also learning from them and trying to incorporate those strengths into her own platform.
“All of them have given their time, their effort and everyone worked based on their capability, and when you take up the presidency there is a lot that you do and I want to honor that position. Whenever I have issues, I try to have a discussion with them to get a different outlook so that I can make a better decision,” she explains.As Shreejana Rana has been in the hospitality sector since the beginning, she has done everything—from cleaning bathrooms to waiting tables or welcoming guests, which has given her experience with every angle of the industry. With that in mind, as the president she wants her fellow employees to have that dignity and pride of their position within the service industry. Something that she wants to introduce is standard operating procedure (SOP). “From homestays to five star hotels, regardless of the training if you do not follow standard operating procedures, nothing will be up to standard. So my intention is to create that in collaboration with HAN and introduce it to various hospitality training divisions not only in Kathmandu but all over Nepal,” she shares.
On the topic of Nepali food, she shares her belief that it is dynamic and abundant due to the country’s multiple ethnicities. She wants the hospitality sector to create and move further away from just your typical momo, thali and thukpa, and explore the various other cuisines that are present.
Another agenda that she wants to promote is MICE business. “Meeting, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions, or MICE, has a huge potential in the Nepali market. Along with that I am also working towards destination wedding swithin Nepal,” she shares.
Visit Nepal 2020 is getting closer and closer, and the question is now if the hospitality sector is prepared for it or not. On this topic, Shreejana Rana shares, “We are very prepared to welcome guests, that is not an issue. All the hotels are geared up to receive guests and we do not have a problem and I think we are capable of it.” She asks us not to expect a miracle in 2020 but to look forward to the future, as this time of promotion will help the country to reap benefits over the next 10 years and more. Also, it must be emphasized that the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign will not only be about Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan but the entire nation, as there are so many places where tourists can enjoy activities, experiences and adventure.
With a campaign of such magnitude there are bound to be challenges, and to overcome them there needs to be incentives to make the sector more efficient and easier to operate. “There are lots of departments in the government that are making the process difficult. It ends up wasting a lot of time to get something done. It is imperative that the government create a one-department policy to help save us time because tourism is such an important division of the country. Also while making policies, the government should include the stakeholders from tourism,” she explains. She also states that the government is very approachable and welcoming but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Encouraging us to have that positive attitude and the Nepali-pan so revered all over the world, she wants us to look ahead to the future and work together to shine a light on Nepal’s hospitality service.