KATHMANDU, May 19: Nepal, traditionally a tourist country, possesses a wide variety of places with great historical importance.
Thus, there are plenty of opportunities for young people to get involved in the field of tourism, and a substantial number of people are already engaged in this sector.
One occupation in the tourism sector that is highly male-dominated is that of tour guides. However, Kathmandu has its fair share of female tourist guides as well.
A tour guide is a person who guides visitors in the aspect of language and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of the area.
They provide assistance, information on cultural, historical and contemporary heritage or interpretation to people on organized tours, individual clients, educational establishments, at religious and historical sites, museums, and at venues of other significant interest. They normally have a recognized national or regional tourist guide qualification.
Various issues on female employment have been talked about. Women and tourism are given special importance, but one profession which has not been talked about much is of female employment as tourist guides.
According to the Tourist Guide Association of Nepal (TURGAN), the first female tour guides were recruited in 1980. The first person to take training as a tour guide was Pushpa Lata Chhetri, thus making her the first female tour guide in Nepal.
Regarding the qualifications of female tour guides, a Bachelor’s degree in any faculty is a must now for taking training courses as tour guides.
Formerly, trainings were conducted by the Hotel Management and Tourism Training Centre (HMTTC) but now the institution has changed its name to Nepal Academy of Tourism & Hotel Management (NATHM).
When groups of tourists arrive at the travel agency, the job of a tour guide starts. Tour guides take tourists to visit historical places and provide information about the culture and tradition associated with that particular place.
Tour guides are appointed for the whole package that lasts from seven to 12 days, depending on the travel agency’s daily itineraries. The guides travel with the tourists throughout Nepal, inside Kathmandu, or outside.
Their jobs start from 9 am and ends at 5 pm but the schedule may not always be the same since they might have to work overtime.
One of Nepal’s best known female tour guides is Indira Joshi, now 58 years old, who is still actively involved in the field.
A good guide can earn a nice salary plus tips from the hosting travel agent. Some tour guides work with travel agencies whereas others work independently.
Working as a female tour guide is a liberating experience for women because this profession not only provides economic independence to women but it also provides mental and emotional independence.
When female tour guides were asked what was the most important thing required in a female tour guide, the answers were motivation, confidence, and a love of communication, and interaction.
In a country where many women are still confined to household chores, working as a tour guide seems to be a bold and courageous profession.
Communicating confidently with people from different walks of life gives these female tour guides a sense of true achievement.
Traveling away from home with strangers and making them feel at home is indeed a difficult task to accomplish, but these women have excelled in their endeavors wonderfully.
Gautam is currently radio presenter at Hits FM 91.2. She has a Master’s degree in Sociology and is passionate about reading and writing.