WORLD TOURISM DAY: Tourism talk with Nepal's first female paragliding pilot
Kathmandu - Once fully dependent on foreign paragliding pilots, Nepal has now become self-sustained in paragliding pilots. Nepal's paragliding scene has been successful not only in commercial tourism point of view but also in competitive sports. Nepal won a silver medal in cross-country paragliding at Gunung Mas Puncak of West Java, Indonesia on 29 August 2019 in the 18th Asian Games.
This was the only medal bagged by Nepal in the prestigious continental games of Asia. According to tourism experts, Nepal has become a paragliding paradise in South Asia in the last decade. Since its initiation in Pokhara in 1995, commercial paragliding has extended to in various parts of Nepal including Dharan/Bhedetar, Belaka of Udayapur, Syanja, Kathmandu, among others.
Almost all tandem paragliding pilots in Nepal are male. However, Trisha Shrestha Bomjan is one of the very few female tandem paragliding pilots in Nepal's paragliding world. She is the first licensed female tandem paragliding pilot in Nepal. Shrestha talked to RSS correspondent Birat Anupam on the occasion of the World Tourism Day (WTD) 2020.
The WTD has been celebrated since 27 September 1980 at the call of the United Nations commemorating the day of the statue adaptation of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The slogan for this year's World Tourism Day is ''Tourism and Rural Development''. In an interview for this auspicious day for the world tourism fraternity, Nepal's first licensed female paragliding shared her insights of this adventure tourism in Nepal. Some excerpts:
What inspired you to be a professional paragliding pilot? I was attracted towards this sector after watching paragliding activities in our family-run Sunrise Paragliding Company of Pokhara. I participated in 15-day beginners' course some 13 years ago. After accomplishing solo pilot course, I was more interested to be a part of professional tandem course. I joined tandem course after five years of my solo pilot course.
I am married to Rajesh Bomjam, the first licensed tandem paragliding pilot of Nepal. You have been flying for 13 years and it has been more than five years of tandem flight. Which flight is better- solo or tandem? Solo flight is best. I can fly on my personal interest when I go solo.
Passenger's interest, health and mental state matter most in tandem flight. How many hours have you spent in the skies and how many passengers have you flown so far? I have spent countless hours in the skies. I would fly almost 6-hours-a-day during my course period. After being a licensed tandem paragliding pilot, I have flown more than 900 passengers. Could you share some places of your paragliding flight other than Pokhara? I have flown in the skies of Indonesia.
I have made flights in places like Syangja and the base camp of Mardi Himal. I have flown up to 4400 meters above sea level. What are the preconditions to be a professional tandem paragliding pilot? First, we must be curious and mentally prepared. Without curiosity and mental preparation, one cannot be a good pilot. It is first and foremost thing to adapt while pursuing this adventurous career not only for female but for all genders. Second, we need ample time, as paragliding pilot is not a matter of few days, weeks and months.
To be a perfect tandem pilot, we need to invest at least three years of constant efforts in flying. Third, we need to invest a big amount of money. To be a perfect tandem pilot after continued three years of practices along with purchases of all essential gears and equipment, it costs more than 2 million Nepali rupees.
It may increase in the days ahead. What is the average earning of professional Nepali paragliding pilot? If you are serious about safety and security of your passengers, you will have big demand. With a big demand, you will have good earning. To talk about my personal income, I make around 50,000 Nepali rupees a month. What is the role of physical fitness in paragliding? Paragliding is not about physical fitness. It is all about technical accuracy and mental fitness.
How long do you plan to fly? If my health supports me, I am planning to fly more than two decades. I am 30 now; I want to fly until I turn 50. Visit Nepal 2020 is troubled by the pandemic. How has been your business lately? Paragliding in Pokhara is in complete halt. So are all other businesses here.
It has been completely closed for the entire time of the pandemic. It has reopened since last week. However, it is catastrophe to open business without any tourist here. Our company (Sunrise Paragliding) is still closed. Few other companies are operating. Still, owing to lack of tourists, they, too, are struggling hard to sustain.