Khem R. Lakai photo
Khem R. Lakai

Khem R. Lakai
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education (GATE College)

Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality is affiliated to Swiss Hotel Association— the world’s benchmark in the hospitality world. Mr. Lakai sees abundant opportunities in the tourism sector in Nepal. Tourism industry is growing rapidly that ensures economic development of the country. His long experience in the hospitality industry underpins his inference that skill-enhancing education can enable students to expose themselves in the hospitality industry. He shared his strong contention with College Readers that the tourism sector should be promoted with adequate promotional campaigns both in Nepal and in foreign countries. Excerpts:

How is the scope of hospitality management in Nepal in the current situation?

There are three pillars of economic development: hydroelectricity, agriculture and tourism. Hydroelectricity projects provide job opportunities during the time of its construction and can employ only a few human resources after its completion. Agriculture has not yet become commercialized in Nepal. In this way, only tourism has high prospects in Nepal.

In recent times, internal and external tourism has been increasing in Nepal creating employment opportunities in hospitality management. Nepal’s geographical location shows that more than 40% of the world’s population lives in our neighboring countries. If a very small part of this population makes their tour to Nepal, the tourism sector will flourish significantly. Yet, this must be supported by quality tourism education rather than just mass tourism. For this approach, we need a large number of skilled human resources in the tourism sector. So, by analyzing the prospect of tourism we can say that there is great opportunity in hospitality management in Nepal.

What are the convincing reasons that satisfy students to pursue hotel management course at GATE?

Hospitality Management is the applied field of knowledge. Most of the components of this program are practical oriented with soft skill efficiency. Considering this, our college provides sufficient practical labs with highly skilled and experienced human resources, or faculty, to better serve both Nepali and international students. And we’re guided by the Swiss Hotel Association, a 126 year-old industry, perhaps the best hospitality management system in the world. Their educational standards are crafted by the University of Zurich. Our college is the first college in Asia to get an affiliation from this university. We impart the similar standard of education that students get while studying in Switzerland. And as a result, around half of our students go to foreign countries for paid internship.

In addition, our students prepare food items themselves and take lunch every day in the college which makes them fully confident in the practical approach to learning as well as maintaining discipline.

How is the performance of your graduates in the global market?

We do not provide sugar-coated picture to our students, rather we provide them quality education focusing on confidence development. We make them gain skills and efficiency in our college. So, all our products are easily saleable in the global market. During ten years’ time, we have produced many graduates. All our products have shown outstanding performance with leading roles in various reputed institutions inside and outside the country. Our products are tested in various countries of the world. So, we can confidently claim that we have produced qualified graduates.

In your opinion, what should be done for the enhancement of performance of students of hospitality industry in Nepal?

We should improve our teaching tradition from basic level. In Switzerland, for example, class 9 is considered to be the determinant stage to carve out a path for a successful career. So class 9 to 12 is run in apprentice model so during this period students go to work four days and attend theoretical classes only for one day. This emphasizes the development of practical skills in addition to theoretical knowledge. So, they learn all the skills and knowledge required for a particular field during their 9 to 12 class.

But in our country, grade 10 is considered to be the school leaving level. So hotel management students completing ten-plus-two level, or grades 11 and 12, do not possess the required skills and  competencies required in the industry, as they would in Switzerland or other developed countries. In the Nepalese context, sadly, skill is not counted as education, when in fact skill should be considered to be an inseparable part of education, not just the Nepal certificates earned by a 3 hour annual examination. In this regard, GATE provides practical education following the best practices, proven by the quality education system of Switzerland. We deliver our service focusing on applied orientation.

Based on your experience, could you tell us how many students get employment opportunities in Nepal if we deliver education in apprentice model?

The apprentice model is the best model of teaching. Students learn practical skills along with theoretical knowledge. If Nepal follows the trend, the students will get employment opportunities on one hand, and on the other hand, hotels will get competent human resources. As we analyze the present trend of tourism, we can find this model as a win-win prospect in Nepal. During a few years’ time, the number of star hotels in Nepal will double. So, for quality tourism, we need skilled human resources which can be fulfilled by our efforts.

How will your college go ahead in the future?

Our college has been providing internationally accredited degrees in Nepal, value added by Tribuhvan University equivalency, the largest national university in Nepal. We’ve been following modern trends in teaching and learning activities. In fact, tourism & hospitality education must be the applied field of knowledge. So we’re also focusing more deeply on vocational education, providing more real world practical exposure to our students during the time of their study. We also provide additional training as required. If the government allows us to impart higher secondary education in apprentice model, we will be able to produce more creative, motivated, skilled and confident human resources. This is required for the tourism sector in Nepal. Education will be less expensive, and not only rich but low income youngsters can access job-oriented education instead of just carrying a certificate without any skills or competency.

What suggestions would you like to give to students wishing to pursue hotel management course in Nepal?

Hotel management qualification is a hands-on education. Students, who have deep interest in being a professional in this sector, should visit our college. There are many social rumors about foreign university affiliated colleges in Nepal, but contrarily, we should welcome century-old, time-tested and proven practices to elevate our own educational standards.

Students of hotel management should be ready to work and learn different roles, including dishwashers, room attendants, cooks, waiters, and so on, which many consider superficial social stigmas. But learning these skills builds experience and strong character. Students should feel proud of being able to get their hands dirty and do what others hesitate to do, so that in later life they’ll become true leaders who have respect for hard work, and acquire knowledge about jobs which they may even manage in the future.

Remember, hospitality is all about people, and a true hospitality graduate will have innate qualities to respect every other human regardless of caste, color, race, religion, job or background. These aspirations, working within an apprentice model of education, is what makes our college unrivalled to better serve Nepal’s nascent, growing hospitality industry.


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