‘Tourism entrepreneurs need to be encouraged’ says Debikrishna Rokaya

I was born in Murma village near Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal. I took primary education in the village and for secondary education, I had to walk for three hours to a different village. We used to go around Rara Lake every day to graze cattle.

After I finished school I had secured a position in public service in the government of Nepal government. However, I could not take the job for various reasons. Then, I decided to enter into the tourism business. Initially, I and the youth of my village formed the Rara Tourism Development Committee. Our goal was to create a comprehensive master plan for the development of tourism in Rara. Another goal we had was to form a Rara Development Boart with the stakeholders for the overall development of Rara, which we have not been able to complete yet. Besides my work with the committee, I also set up a travel company called Rara Adventure Private Limited to provide service to the tourists coming to Karnali and Rara.

My family members have been living around Rara Lake for generations. When I spoke for Rara’s development, I thought hundreds would be employed later. Yes, if I had worked in the civil service, I would have had only one job. But today I have 15 staff members. We are working together Hundreds of people will get employment with the opening of various tourism ventures in Rara in future days.

Karnali has huge tourism potential but it is not as easily accessible due to geography. We can develop products for homestay tourism, paragliding, trekking, horse riding, rafting, cycling, so on. It has its share of challenges too. Only a limited portion of the budget sent by the government reaches Rara. So, I believe, if we are to increase the number of tourist arrivals in Rara, we need to increase the number of tourism entrepreneurs. We also need to develop infrastructure, such as an airport, and trekking routes, so that it becomes more accessible for tourists. Tourists from Kathmandu must be able to reach Rara easily by air and land. They need to be served local produce and treated well. Most importantly, they need to feel safe travelling here. We also need to educate citizens here about the benefits of tourism. From horse riding to hotel business and guides, tourism enterprises should be linked. Every product of Karnali needs to be associated with tourism.

The government’s investment in Rara is currently very low. Banks do not provide loans for tourism businesses in Rara. So, the government has to make arrangements for us so that we can easily acquire loans for our businesses.

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