Travel and Tourism is one of the parts of our daily lives. The World Tourism Organization defines the concept of tourism as “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours, business and other purposes.
Talking about my journey into Travels and Tourism sector, it is very complicated. During my student life, I was not sure about my career. My aim to join Bachelor’s Degree was to graduate and get a job with a stable source of income to be settled in my life. I joined “AITM School of Hotel Management” because I was attracted towards the lifestyle of hoteliers including hotel personnel’s attire and hotel environment. Also, according to my seniors, I was told that hoteliers earn a pretty decent income. This made me excited to choose hotel management for my career. But frankly speaking, I was never into hotel management before I joined. I believed that my interest in Hotel Management was high because I was being brainwashed by the people around me. I started my classes and the world Hotel Management started expanding in my head. I felt lucky that ‘AITM School of Hotel Management’ gave me chance to enhance my knowledge about hotel management and hoteliers. During my studies, I was good in theoretical knowledge, but when it was about practical implementation, I wanted to skip classes and run away. I felt I was very poor. I tried to focus on the practical classes, but I failed.
Gradually, I was getting good grades and my semester was running smoothly. One day, my father asked me specifically about the department in which I want to work on, in my future. He gave me options: Front office or Front Beverage Department. I showed my discomfort on practically working in a hotel. My father asked me, “What do you want to do in the future then? I replied, “I have no idea about it.”. He then suggested me to go for an internship. I too was thinking about the internship so I applied for one. I went to Malaysia for an internship for 6 months. It was the toughest time for me. I did work there but I never enjoyed working. I used to look at my watch every now and then in anticipation of time to go home. No new learnings were exciting to me.
I completed my internship at the Marriott Hotel and returned back to Nepal with my internship certificate. I was nervous about the possibility of my father asking me the same question now and I would have the same answer. I was worried that he will yell at me for wasting 3 years of my life. I was guilty and depressed about the internship. I shared this with my mom and she advised me to take a break, go Mustang, relax and just think about my career. As I had so many things going on my head, I decided to take a solo trip and she supported my decision.
Mustang was waiting for me. I enjoyed everything about Mustang, the scenery, the people, their cuisine and the journey itself. I wanted to know everything about Mustang so I did my research. I found my happiness in doing so. Then I started to travel more and tried to research about places and this gave me an immense amount of joy. My father noticed that I was becoming a happier person after I started traveling. He advised me to choose travel and tourism as my career as I would be happy traveling. “How can tourism be my career?”, I asked him. He said, “You can work as a travel agent or tour operator or even work in government tourism sector.” I was confident about tourism as I had my Hotel Management Degree. I got my hopes back and felt I can do it.
I started working in a travel agency as a tour operator. I enjoyed helping the travelers. One day, I met an American citizen Liza, who had been working in the tourism sector for almost 11 years. I shared my story and experiences with her. She shared that travel and tourism are one of the leading industries in the current scenario and we could generate plenty of opportunities and income in upcoming days especially in Nepal. She also mentioned that I had very basic knowledge about travel & tourism and suggested to gain advanced knowledge of it. As per her suggestion, I opted for the Master’s Degree to make my career better and develop Nepal’s tourism sector. I moved to Seoul, South Korea to learn more about travel & tourism. Currently, I am studying at Sejong University. I am learning so many new things from experienced professors. They give me ideas about how to research in travel and tourism and also help me to write papers about enhancing tourism. This is my last semester and I am writing a paper which generates the new ideas about tourism. I am very willing to prepare a strong research paper. This course is making me strong and independent and helping me to build my career. My aim is to be a researcher and a professor in the travel and tourism sector. I want to say to all my juniors, “You should think properly before you join a sector otherwise you will be confused for a long time. I got a second chance in life but everyone might not be as lucky as I was.
Currently, I am working as a researcher in Urban Tourism in Nepal along with my studies. And I have promised myself that I will make a bigger platform for upcoming generations who are willing to join the travel and tourism sector.
By: Usha Poudel, Sejong University, Urban Tourism (Researcher)