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By Kishor Basnyat

Chandra Prasad Rijal is not a new name for those involved in tourism industry. Born on Ashadh 3 in Khalte-3 of Dhading district, he has been with the Nepali tourism for more than two decades. He is the managing director of See Nepal Travel and Adventure and a promoter of Mum’s Home. This dynamic private sector leader is the President of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) — the umbrella organization of nearly 1250 trekking agencies in the country.

Chandra Rijal

CHILDHOOD DAYS

Rijal was born in a decent Brahmin family. His father Dhruba Rijal had given up teaching job to take up priestly job.  Rijal studies till Grade 3 in Kalika Primary School in his village and later joined Pancha Kanya Lower Secondary School as his brother and sisters were also studying there. Then he joined Bhairavi Secondary School for his high school. The school lied at a walk of one and half hours from his village. Rijal completed SLC examination in 2045 BS and came to Kathmandu.

Rijal was attracted toward leftist movement in his school days itself. “There was a lady named Kamala Tuladhar in our school. She encouraged me to join leftist movement. I have immense respect for her even today,” he added.

KATHMANDU CALLING

In Kathmandu, Rijal actively participated in the political movement of 1990. He completed I.Com from Saraswati Campus, Lainchaur and B.Com from People’s Campus, Paknajol. “I was active in student politics in my college days. I was very active in extracurricular activities and used to help students with administrative formalities,” he added.

After completing his graduation, Rijal joined Tri Chandra for his Masters in Sociology. But he couldn’t complete it. “Eventually I completed my Masters in Human Resources Management from Tribhuvan University,” he added.

During his childhood days, Rijal used to say he would be a doctor in the future. “I was a bright student. Everybody used to say that I should be a doctor or an engineer,” he added. Later, he felt he should be a lawyer. But as most of his friends were studying management, he eventually enrolled in a management college.

ENTRY IN TOURISM

Rijal entered tourism industry in the late 1990s. But his first meaningful project was Hotel Diplomat which he opened with some friends in 2000. “We were associated with the hotel till 2012,” he added. Though Hotel Diplomat, he became executive member of Hotel Association of Nepal – the apex body of hotels in Nepal. He was actively involved in a protest against Former King Gyanendra Shah’s direct rule through Democratic Tourism Entrepreneurs Society. “I was the general secretary of that organization,” he added.

The seasoned entrepreneur also runs See Travel and Adventure which organizes tours as well as trekking. Similarly, his team opened Digo Paryatan Saving and Cooperatives in 2011. Now the cooperative has more than 200 shareholders.

Rijal holds different social portfolios. He is the Chairman of Digo Paryatan Saving and Credit Cooperatives and President of Nepal National Tourism Entrepreneurs Organization. Similarly, Rijal is the general secretary of Nepal Rafting and Canoeing Association which is registered with National Sports Council. Similarly, he is the board member of Nepal Tourism Recovery Council, Ghumphir Barsha Organizing Committee, Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM) and Nepal Mountain Academy.

He has visited countries like the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Holland, Germany, Italy and Belgium, among others. “I was also a part of the then Prime Minister KP Oli’s delegation to China. During the visit, I worked to establish bilateral tourism ties. My focus was on bringing more Chinese visitors to Nepal,” he added.

LEADERSHIP OF TAAN

TAAN was elected as the President of TAAN in 2015. Elaborating his vision, Rijal said their focus is on streamlining management of TAAN to make service delivery more effective. “On the day we assumed office, we felt that the first thing we should do is make the management smooth and result-oriented. We have already started work in this direction,” he said, adding: “We have started many new things in TAAN. It will take sometimes to see the result.”

Rijal addresses his team members after assuming leadership of TAAN.

Rijal addresses his team members after assuming leadership of TAAN.

He also said TAAN has set some agendas compiling issues raised in election manifestos of both competing panels. “We will work to implement them one after the other,” he said.

Commenting on internal feud in TAAN, Rijal said everything has been settled for good now. “There were some differences with the Treasurer. Now, the differences are being bridged gradually. There is no misunderstanding amongst us now,” he added.

FAMILY LIFE

Rijal is married to Sushmita Dhakal and the couple is blessed with two sons. “I met Sushmita ji while I was involved in student politics. We soon became good friends but never expressed our feelings to each other. Eventually we got married in 2057 BS,” Rijal said, adding: “Ours was a court marriage.”

Rijal

Rijal with his family.

But life is not always pleasant; it gives unprecedented grief and sorrow to. The couple’s first child died of an unknown disease. But the birth of a son after few years brought joys to the grief-stricken couple. Second son soon joined the family bringing loads of happiness.

“My wife, who is a university teacher, just returned home, completing her higher studies in Europe,” Rijal added. The visionary entrepreneur admitted that he has not been able to give sufficient time to his family. “I have a very busy schedule. I know I should give more time to my family, but I have not been able to do so. This is something that I want to change,” Rijal, who is fond of volleyball and badminton, said.

SUMMING IT UP

Rijal says positivity is the main philosophy of his life. “I don’t work for my personal interest; I always put people’s interest of people first,” he said, adding: “If all Nepalis have a feeling of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, we can bring about social transformation with ease.”

As a tourism entrepreneur, he urges all to travel to new places, meet new people and experience new culture and tradition. “It is good to see that travel culture is growing among youngsters,” he said, adding, “Don’t keep the money in bank; keep it moving. Make the economy vibrant.”

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