Karna Sakya: the man behind tourism development in Nepal
The man behind the establishment of Thamel as a popular tourist destination, Karna Sakya, the owner of Kathmandu Guest House (KGH) in Thamel, is the one responsible for shifting the tourism hub from Freak Street to Thamel. A conservationist by heart, he had received forester trainings from India and abroad and had worked in the Forestry Department for sometime in the late sixties. He resigned from his job in the year 1972 and started operating a 13-roomed Kathmandu Guest House in an old Rana Palace bought by his father. He is today known more popularly as an entrepreneur and an author.
An innovative entrepreneur, devoted conservationist, talented writer and die-hard social worker, he has many identities to go by. He inspired people to look forward and invest in tourism during the campaign of Visit Nepal 1998 and according to the data, the industrial loan taken by tourism sector rose from 20.03 percent in 1996/97 to 40.41 percent in 1997/98 which resulted in opening of more than hundred hotels within that fiscal year. Also, the revenue generated from the tourism industry rose from US $ 115904 in 1997 to US $ 168100 in 1999 making him an important figure when it came to development of tourism sector in Nepal. He has also received Suprabal Gorkha Dakshin Bahu, one of the most prestigious awards in Nepal, for his contribution in tourism industry, although he would have been happier to receive it for conservation.
He has, however, sometimes been criticized for being harsh, stubborn and captive mind. Despite that criticism, he has been able to think about new innovative ideas to develop the industry even better. The death of his wife and daughter by cancer made him organize public opinion against cancer in such a way that the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala put tax of one paisa on sale of every cigarette which later helped to open the BP Memorial Cancer Hospital at Bharatpur, Chitwan. He operates Sushila Cancer Hospice at Bharatpur in the memory of his late wife and also directed and produced a tele-serial Amritanjali to create awareness on cancer.
This successful entrepreneur mentions the dying moments of his wife as the saddest moment of his life. An active and innovative personality, Karna Sakya was also appointed as Trustee of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (now renamed Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation) for his contribution in conservation sector. He also served as the President for Nepal Heritage Society and Nepal Cancer Relief Society. Moreover, he is also the President of Sakya Corporate Holding and KGH Group of Hotels and Resorts along with being executive member of six other organizations. His Kathmandu Guest House has also been home to many celebrities including Ricky Martin. He has written many books on conservation as well as positive living, among which Encounter Wildlife in Nepal, Dolpo – The Hidden Paradise, Tales of Kathmandu, Look Down Not Up, Soch, Moj and Khoj are few to name. He has also edited the Preservation Pays, dedicated to conservation and preservation and played an important role in establishing Chitwan National Park.