KATHMANDU, Feb 28: Noted tourism entrepreneur Ang Tshering Sherpa died in a helicopter crash in Taplejung district on Wednesday afternoon.
Sherpa was among six passengers, including tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari, on board the Airbus AS 350B helicopter operated by Air Dynasty Heli Services.
Ang Tshering had entered tourism business by joining Thamserku Trekking – a company started by his brother Lakpa Sonam – in early 1990s. The family business has now expanded to travel, trekking, climbing and mountaineering, hotels and lodges, and aviation sectors. The family owns Gokarna Forest Resort, Yeti Mountain Home – a chain of lodges and resorts, Ker & Downey lodges, Yeti Airlines and its subsidiary Tara Air, among others. The Sherpa family is also the promoters of Air Dynasty Heli Service and Altitude Air.
Ang Tshering is credited for expanding and diversifying the family business. Yeti Airlines, established in 1998, is now the second largest domestic carrier in the country in terms of market share. The family is also the majority shareholder of Yeti World Investment which owns 51 percent of shares in Himalaya Airlines – a full service international airlines co-owned by Tibetan Airlines of China. The family has hotels and lodges in different parts of the country including Chitwan, Lumbini and Kaski, among others.
“He was a very down to earth person. He used to describe himself as a porter and he did not go to high school,” Suman Pandey, CEO of Summit Helicopters, told Republica. Pandey, who has known Ang Tshering for more than two decades, said he was always focused on growth and expansion of his business.
Similarly, Bijaya Amatya, CEO of Kora Tours, said Ang Tshering’s demise is a big loss to the country’s tourism industry. “He was a pioneer of adventure tourism in Nepal,” he added.
Ang Tshering’s business rivals considered him to be a formidable competitor with good political connections that he would use for business interests. Many are also jealous of the impressive growth and expansion of his companies.
Unlike other successful businessmen, Ang Tshering was media shy and always wanted to live in low profile. He neither attended public functions, nor gave interviews to media. “He didn’t like the glamour of media,” Pandey added.
Ang Tshering was an avid golfer and has won several amateur events.
Helicopter tragedy is not new for the Sherpa family. Ang Tshering’s youngest brother Ang Tendi was killed in a helicopter accident in 2001, while his elder brother Lakpa Sonam and sister-in-law Anita survived a major helicopter accident in Lukla in 2013.