Sunil Sakya is the president of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter. Shakya, who joined the tourism industry from hotel business, is now the chairman of KGH Hotels Pvt Ltd. KGH Hotels have properties in Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara, Lumbini and Chitwan, among others. As Nepal prepares to host 3rd Himalayan Travel Mart (HTM) in Kathmandu, Kishor Basnyat of eTravelPress talked to Sakya to know more about the mart and its objectives. Excerpts:
How has been the preparation for HTM 2019?
The preparation is well underway. We have used our best of the knowledge and skills to make this mart successful. We have buyers and sellers from 30 countries participating. They have been screened by NTB and our PATA Travel Mart. Most of the buyers and media persons and bloggers are already in Nepal. They are currently participating in pre-mart fam trips. Some are doing trekking, others are visiting Pokhara, Chitwan or Lumbini. We have trained 60 plus volunteers to make sure that the mart progresses in a seamless manner. All the volunteers are in place now: at the airport, at the hotels. We are promoting the mart as the gateway to the Himalayas. In line with our theme, we are seeing participation of delegates, speakers and buyers/sellers reflect from the Himalayan countries.
This is the third edition of HTM. How has the event grown over the past years?
We have grown in terms of popularity, quality and event size. This event is well-known now. There is huge demand from buyers and sellers. We closed registration about a week ago, but we are still getting request from seller companies. Because of small venue at Soaltee Crowne Plaza, we had to turn down many sellers this year. Many are in the waiting list. We could have accommodated more sellers if we had bigger venue.
How has been the response?
The response from the international travel trade has been immense and exciting. We had lot of queries from buyers. There is also a huge interest from media, travel bloggers and influencers. We have selected them after rigorous screening. I am hopeful that they will cover the event in their respective media and social media platforms which will in turn promote HTM. Also, the quality in terms of buyers, sellers, media, bloggers and speakers is getting better.
We are promoting the mart as the gateway to the Himalayas. In line with our theme, we are seeing participation of delegates, speakers and buyers/sellers reflect from the Himalayan countries.
Nepal is celebrating Visit Nepal Year 2020. How do you think the mart will support the yearlong campaign?
As a lot of international media and bloggers are here, HTM could be a launching pad for VNY. Further, officials of PATA Headquarters are here. As PATA is a global organization, I think many international delegates will be acquainted with the mart. Through HTM, many countries across the world will be able to know about our Visit Nepal Year 2019 campaign.
Could you please elaborate the theme of HTM 2019?
The theme of HTM 2019 is ‘Spirit of Himalayas’. Tourism is ever changing and new types of products are being introduced and tried across the world. We cannot remain in isolation. We have a big challenge of welcoming two million visitors by 2020. For that, we need new tourism products and services. We are using this mart to cash in on the new trend of tourism — spirituality. We will be talking about yoga, spa and wellness, mind, body and soul, and other things. We will be discussing on these new trends in the conference that we are hosting as a major component of HTM 2019.