Ecotourism in Nepal
Ecotourism in Nepal is focused, in that ecotourism initiatives in Nepal promote sustainable development and community empowerment. It was recognised that ecotourism, while being one of the country's most popular forms of tourism, was also an avenue for sustainable community development, and that there were ways in which these small, mostly poverty-stricken, communities could benefit from the ecotourism movement in Nepal.
Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is known for developing and implementing some excellent tourism-related programmes throughout the world, and this one is no different. Launched in ten years ago, the Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP) in Nepal was designed around the concept of poverty alleviation through sustainable tourism development, with ecotourism a key tenet.
The TRPAP was elemental in using Nepal's growing ecotourism industry for the benefit of small rural communities through sustainable rural tourism strategies directly linked to the ecotourism industry. Managed by the Government of Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, in conjunction with the UNDP, the TRPAP was designed to be pro-poor, pro-women, pro-environment, and pro-community.
Through the TRPAP, communities and their women have been empowered by tourism enterprise development training, including financial management, sustainable rural tourism development policies, and construction and development of 'micro-infrastructures', like trails, bridges, visitor information centres, and waste management programs. As such, not only have the communities experience empowerment, this program has also led to the development and implementation of policies, plans, guidelines, studies, and reviews, as well as product development and cohesive marketing strategies.
The TRPAP has seen some significant achievements since its implementation (the final evaluation report can be accessed online), and ecotourism in Nepal has grown to envelop these achievements and incorporate them into business practices. One such ecotourism outfitter is Nature Treks and their Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco-Lodge Treks.
Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Eco-Lodge Treks
Promoted and operated by Nature Treks, the eco-lodge treks in Annapurna's Myagdi district's villages and communities exist for the sustainable development and cultural and natural heritage conservation for the communities. True to the concepts of the TRPAP, the eco-lodge treks ensure that the economic benefit of tourism remains in the communities, and that community development is the primary purpose of tourism to the region.
Through sustainable ecotourism initiatives such as the eco-lodge treks, employment opportunities are created within the local villages, giving ecotourism a more sustainable function within the Nepal tourism industry. Local communities, and particularly women, are being given an opportunity to learn to harness their resources and skills in a sustainable, non-invasive manner, that in turn will enrich and empower their community. In situations such as these, ecotourism in Nepal is ecotourism at its best.
Ecotourism in Nepal
Ecotourism in Nepal is growing and flourishing. While there is always the danger of greenwashing, in any destination, Nepal is one of those countries where you can find legitimate ecotourism ventures that are aligned with sustainable tourism development principles and issues. Through the TPRAP and organisation such as Nature Treks, ecotourism in Nepal has reached a point where it is an industry that, in some cases, is benefitting the local communities directly. When planning an ecotourism holiday in Nepal, provided you do your research, you can feel confident in the choices you make with regards to ecotourism activities and communities to visit.
Photo Credit: Ecotourism in Nepal - kkcondon