Karna Shakya is an entrepreneur, author and a motivational speaker, but most of all he is a man with a vision who can spot the extraordinary in the ordinary. He has worked relentlessly all his life, and now at 72 years of age he still demonstrates confidence that could tame wild horses. The ‘Gorkha Delish’ team met up with this extraordinary personality for an exclusive interview about his life, vision and inspirations.
Gorkha Delish: Mr. Shakya, people know you as an entrepreneur, thinker, author, and motivational speaker. Could you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know, something that you consider absolutely essential to have gathered your momentum for a successful life?
Karna Shakya: I am a forester. I did my masters’ in forestry. I worked as a forest officer for the wildlife department; that was about 50 years ago. Then, you guys were not even born. I had both the privilege and the honor to establish the ‘Chitwan National Park’ and become a pioneer in the wildlife conservation arena of the country.
Gorkha Delish: When did the switch from a forester to an hotelier happen? Would you please provide us with some insights?
Karna Shakya: It was in the year 1979 that I resigned from forestry and started the first hotel in Thamel. Kathmandu Guest House (KGH) was my first hotel. I started out with only 13 rooms but it worked out well and we were able to do good business.
If you look at it now, KGH is one of the most reputed businesses of this country, and it operates a chain of hotels that are all distinct in its own way.
Gorkha Delish: Entrepreneurs envy you for having a money minting machine: Kathmandu Guest house, right in the heart of Thamel. Among the seven hotels of the KGH group what comes second In terms of business volume?
Karna Shakya (laughs): I will correct you there. Kathmandu Guest house WAS a money minting machine. It’s the ‘Park Village Resort’ now that is doing the best in terms of business volume. Park Village is an eco-friendly hotel and in an extremely adorable location. I am trying to coin the word Budhanil for the Budhanilkantha area where the resort is located. We want to create Budhanil as a weekend attraction, and I can see this happening, especially since the city needs a viable alternative for the lack of parking space in Thamel.
Gorkha Delish: Could you share in some thoughts regarding how you perceive Tourism?
Karna Shakya: Tourism is appreciation of beauty. In order to be able to understand it, you are required to develop a proper mindset, have an eager vision and also know the right taste. Tourists go to the Bahamas for its beach; they go to Las Vegas for its casinos. Similarly, tourists who come to Nepal come here looking for a ‘Nepali experience’. They know they are going to Nepal and not to Switzerland. Nepal can never become Switzerland, just like Switzerland can never become Nepal.
And now, Nepal has been voted as the no. 1 tourist destination in the world tourism map. This is the best time to cash in from the Tourism Industry. Even inside the country, 80 percent of the Nepali people are getting rich now. They drive their own cars; there has been a trend for the entire family to go out and dine every once or twice a week. This is indeed the best time for the Hospitality and Tourism Industries in Nepal.
Gorkha Delish: How can one become successful in the Tourism business?
Karna Shakya: It is absolutely crucial to understand ‘Tourism is ever changing and never ending’. It is the science of the human psychology and the economic trend of the world. If you are able to understand the psychology of the people you will always be successful in the tourism business, and if you fail to tune yourself with its vibrations you will fail.
Unlike older times, tourists today aren’t content staying in their hotel room and watching TV; or waiting to be dropped off to the airport. They want to jump from a cliff, fall from sky; they want to float in the air; they have all become so adventurous. Tomorrow they will have different needs.
In this business it is essential to understand the moods and the moments of the ‘tourism of tomorrow’; Today is not enough. Tourism is the business of tomorrow and you will have to develop a sophisticated mind and remain active, dynamic and innovative to succeed in this business.
Gorkha Delish: What is your success mantra?
Karna Shakya: I have my own formula: When you manage yourself you can manage the whole world. When you are everywhere, you might be nowhere.
When a problem arises, close your eyes and open your mind; it will show you so many different solutions for your problems (some of them will even be routes of mischief). Then, ask your heart, what does it say? Does it agree? If not, keep looking. Once you find the route that is in unison with both your heart and your head, follow it with all your strength; climb, fly, do whatever it takes and get there.