Postak Shrestha was born and brought up in the tourist town of Chitwan National Park, Nepal where he also started his career in tourism as a Nature Guide in early 90s. After spending about two years as a Nature Guide, he moved to the capital city Kathmandu and started working for a European Tour Operator as a Tour Leader, and later held key positions in operation and finance in the same company. After few years the company started downsizing its Nepal office, and Postak founded his own company together with some of his colleagues in 1998; since then Postak has been actively promoting adventure and culture tours to the Himalaya and Asia. Postak immigrated to USA in March 2005 with his family and Highland Asia Travel (now doing business as Far & High Adventure Travel) was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota a year after. While the company here in USA is an independent entity, Postak is also a major share holder in Nepal and Bhutan offices. In other destinations, Postak works with local suppliers, some of whom are headed by his former colleagues. Postak and his company specializes in small groups and custom tours to Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and India. Postak also offers tours to Myanmar, China, Mongolia and Indochina.
Postak is a Mathematics and Physics graduate and lives with his wife and two daughters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For many, travel is a business but Postak takes it as his passion and believes in earning his bread and butter by doing what he likes. He finds satisfaction not in the profit but in the positive notes of happily returning customers. Postak’s clients says that he is very patient, flexible and takes care of every tiny details. Whether you are a part of a big group or a solo traveler taking a private trip, you will get equal attention from him.
Travel Research Online: What is your earliest or most memorable experience in travel?
Postak Shrestha: I was guiding a group on a jungle hike in Chitwan National Park and we saw a rhinoceros in some 400 yards away. It was grazing and also walking in the direction towards us. I asked everyone to find some trees and climb up but everyone got so busy in taking pictures of the animal, they didn’t listen to me. Within a moment, the animal was very close to us and people started panicking. Luckily there was a big Kapok Tree with broad trunk where we could hide. The animal passed by the tree but didn’t see us. We were holding our breath! May be the wind was blowing in the same direction it was walking, otherwise it could smell us. This has been an unforgettable experience for me.
TRO: What first inspired you to launch a career in tourism?
PS: I am born and raised in the tourist town of Chitwan National Park. When I was still a child, I used to see the tourists in my village. There were no lodges or organized travel services at that time. Tourists came with their own tents or stayed in private homes. As a child, I was always curious to learn about them, like where they came from or what language they do speak etc. Later, those home owners who let people sleep in their home added some rooms in their house and started lodge business. Those who could speak some English became tourist guides. Many of friends chose different carrier after college, but I returned to my village to become a guide. I was the first college graduate guide in Chitwan National Park!!!
TRO: Tell us about your role at Highland Asia Travel.
PS: We are a small company and so I wear multiple hats. I am the President of the company but you can find me picking up phone and answering questions of the clients. I enjoy designing and planning custom itineraries for the clients. I personally oversee the reservation team to make sure that all the bookings are made correctly. I also devote some time in marketing, updating website, sending newsletter and promotions mails. I also represent my companies in travel shows. When get time, I take chance to go out on the tour.
TRO: What aspect of Highland Asia Travel might travel agents be unaware of?
PS: When the travel agents call us first time, most of them say that they haven’t heard of Highland Asia before! That’s true. Our history in the US as a tour company goes back to 2006 only but I first founded my company in Nepal in 1998! We are a small growing company in US. We book only several hundred clients in a year and so we are able to provide personalized care and attention to our clients. We haven’t done much for our presence in the internet and we couldn’t afford to exhibit in every trade fair but we are able to give you the references of our past clients.
TRO: The Asian destinations you feature are sometimes more neglected than others – how would you convince travel agents to consider Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and India when working with clients?
PS: Somehow people are preoccupied in their mind that Himalaya is for trekking and mountaineering only. They think they are not young or fit enough for travel to such exotic destinations. I say, no you don’t have to trek or hike unless you want! There are a lot of historical and cultural monuments, arts and architectures and things to do and see that you can do from the comfort of your hotel! You don’t have to go on a strenuous trekking to see the snow capped mountains! People are also skeptical about the accommodation and facilities and also have health and safety concerns. I agree, there may not be whole lot of options like in a developed country but they are comfortable, fine and adequate! When you travel so far, what you care more about is the pristine nature, authentic religion and culture, rich culture, arts and architecture. Our clients include from toddlers to seniors of early eighties.
TRO: Is there anything exciting on the horizon for Highland Asia Travel?
PS: After establishing a firm grip in the Himalaya, we recently expanded our destinations to Mongolia, Myanmar and Indochina. The exploration and expansion continues and we plan to go beyond Asia in the days to come. So, in order to reflect our growth, we have rebranded ourselves as “Far & High Adventure Travel”. We aim to go to the far and high places of the world which are less visited.