‘Tourism is my passion’

He is a tourism entrepreneur, an artiste and a philanthropist. Rajan Simkhada, the managing director of Earthbound Expeditions, excels in whatever he does. Besides Earthbound Expeditions – his first business venture, Simkhada is promoting a number of companies like Thamel Eco Resort, Pokhara Eco Resort, River Fun Beach Resort, Nepal Yoga Retreat and Himalayan International Yoga.

Born on Bhadra 26, 2033 BS in Darkha VDC of Dhading, Simkhada came to Kathmandu when he was just 13. After SLC, he joined Shankar Dev College where he studied business. He completed graduation in business studies from Saraswati Campus.

“During my college days, I was attracted toward theater and television. As a result, I went on to act in number of theater shows and television series,” Simkhada said, adding, “I also produced a number of television and radio programs.”

Simkhada entered tourism industry by working as a receptionist in a hotel in Thamel in 1994. After working there for around two years there, he started working for a trekking agency. After studying the tourism industry closely, he opened his own trekking company – Earthbound Expeditions – in 1999.

“I was attracted toward tourism during my childhood itself. Trekkers used to walk through my village and they used to stay in tented camps. I used to wonder who they are and what are they doing in my village,” Simkhada said.

Though it has been more than 23 years since he came to Kathmandu, Simkhada still remembers his village. “I have a picture of my village on my table. I enjoy the time I spent there,” he said, adding that he has helped built a school in his birthplace. “I am in the process of building a library there. Likewise, I am making preparations to establish a hospital in my village.”

Tourism is not just a business for Simkhada, it’s his passion. “I like tourism industry because I get to meet people from diverse fields, religions, cultures,” he added.

Simkhada sees big prospects for tourism in Nepal. “We have competitive edge over other countries in terms of tourism products and services. But Infrastructure has remained one of our biggest bottlenecks. If we are to reap more benefits, the government should focus on infrastructure development,” he added. He further underlined the need to diversify tourism products and services so as to attract more tourists.

Simkhada, who entered the tourism industry by opening a trekking agency, has diversified his business. “My focus is on opening boutique hotels. We have already opened Thamel Eco Resort and are in the process of opening Pokhara Eco Resort in Pokhara from coming September,” he said. Simkhada is also promoting yoga tourism through Himalayan International Yoga in Ichangu Narayan. “I am making preparations to start Nepal Yoga Retreat in Sankhu,” he said. Simkhada also operates Riverfun Beach Resort in Kurintar. “I am also studying the prospect of starting a fast-food restaurant of international standard in Thamel,” he added.

Simkhada got married when he was 28 years old. He is the proud father of two sons. His elder brother is in bottled water business. Of his two sisters, one is already married and the other one is staying with him.

When asked what he would have done had he not joined tourism industry, he said he would have continued his acting career. “I might have become a good actor by now. I might have also entered literary field as I still write songs, poems and articles even today,” he added.

Simkhada wanted to be a chartered accountant when he joined Shankardev College. But his parents were adamant that he study engineering. But destiny had other ideas, today Simkhada is a successful tourism entrepreneur.

As someone who has been with the tourism industry for nearly two decades, Simkhada feels Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) needs to change its marketing strategy if it wants to bring more visitors. “We just need to do three things – build infrastructures, bring tourists here by selling tourism products and services, and make them happy through our service so that they recommend their friends and family members to visit Nepal,” Simkhada said, adding that the NTB should focus its activities to achieve these three things.

He also feels NTB is failing to work as per the expectations of private sector because people in the governing board of NTB are not accountable to the industry. “This is why we have been demanding for institutional representation of tourism industry in the board,” he added.

Simkhada employs more than 200 people in his different ventures. “I pay more than Rs 7 million a year in taxes to different government agencies. I feel proud to have become successful to do that,” he said, adding that he loves to inspire youths to do something innovative on their own.

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