Prospec­tive of eco­tourism in Nepal

People's Review - - NEWS - BY ASMITA PANDEY <as­mi­ta­pandeyashu@gmail.

Eco­tourism is the form of tourism that in­volves the na­ture-based trav­el­ling in undis­turbed and un­touched re­mote places. The main fo­cus of eco­tourism is in those ar­eas which are rich in nat­u­ral beauty, bio­di­ver­sity and cul­tural her­itage. Due to the pres­ence of mas­sive moun­tains, rolling hills, abun­dant veg­e­ta­tion, di­verse wildlife and cul­ture; Nepal is a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion and ideal lo­ca­tion for eco­tourism. Eco­tourism is the main form of tourism in the coun­try aside from the at­trac­tion in Kath­mandu Val­ley and other his­tor­i­cal cities. Nepal is a play­ground for tourists with dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties like moun­tain climb­ing, trekking, vis­it­ing re­li­gious and cul­tural sites, raft­ing, bungee- jump­ing, rock climb­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, jun­gle sa­faris, paraglid­ing, vis­it­ing mu­se­ums, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­dige­nous prod­ucts, med­i­ta­tion etc. These ac­tiv­i­ties are more or less re­lated to eco­tourism in the form of na­ture, wildlife, ad­ven­ture and cul­ture­based de­vel­op­ing coun­try like ours eco­tourism can be used to achieve the sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. There are dif­fer­ent forms of eco­tourism de­vel­oped world­wide as com­mu­ni­ty­based eco­tourism, ecosys­tem eco­tourism, cul­tural eco­tourism, na­ture- based eco­tourism, pro­tected area eco­tourism and ru­ral eco­tourism. The com­mence­ment of eco­tourism in Nepal can­not be dic­tated so clearly. But the suc­cess­ful An­na­purna I as­cent by Mau­rice Her­zog in 1950 have led the in­for­mal be­gin­ning of eco­tourism in Nepal. The im­por­tance and ne­ces­sity of eco­tourism was re­al­ized sig­nif­i­cantly with the en­act­ment of the Na­tional Park and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Act in 1973 and es­tab­lish­ment of var­i­ous nat­u­ral pro­tected ar­eas in the hope of con­ser­va­tion of ecosys­tem and de­vel­op­ment in com­mu­nity and other sec­tor in an in­te­grated way. The trend of spec­tac­u­larly tourism growth in Nepal is grad­u­ally head­ing to­wards mass tourism. Hence, it is the right time to im­ple­ment the prin­ci­ples of eco­tourism nat­u­ral ecosys­tems and pro­mote lo­cal cul­ture while pro­tect­ing gen­er­a­tions old cul­tural and re­li­gious her­itage by curb­ing the fast growth of tourism. Eco­tourism pro­vides max­i­mum in­volve­ment of all the stake­hold­ers of the tourism in­dus­try to aware the need of eco­tourism as a re­spon­si­ble tourism to pro­mote the bal­anced de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try. It gives pri­or­ity to eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion, com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment by main­tain­ing low im­pact and non -con­sump­tive uses of lo­cal re­sources. It fo­cuses on achiev­ing three con­cur­rent goals of bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion, poverty re­duc­tion and busi­ness vi­a­bil­ity us­ing sus­tain­able prin­ci­ples and prac­tices. It em­pha­sizes the pro­tec­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources, bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity and sus­tain­abil­ity the mo­bil­ity of peo­ple, so­cial sta­bil­ity and har­mony; strengthen tra­di­tional cul­tural, hospi­tal­ity and folk­way and de­creases po­lit­i­cal con­flict. Eco­nomic ben­e­fits of eco­tourism in­clude di­rect em­ploy­ment in ho­tels, lodges, tourist restau­rants and tourist chauf­feur­ing. It is an in­te­gral part of the mas­ter de­vel­op­ment strat­egy of a de­vel­op­ing na­tion. In Nepal eco­tourism helps to en­hance green­ery, al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources, nat­u­ral re­source, bio­di­ver­sity and other en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits. It helps in con­trol­ling re­li­gious and an­ti­so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, con­serv­ing re­li­gious and cul­tural her­itages, main­tain­ing peace and pros­per­ity and in­crease co­op­er­a­tion among peo­ple with re­li­gious be­lief and tol­er­ance. It has a great role in poverty re­duc­tion, ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, agri­cul­tural trans­for­ma­tion, com­mu­nity en­rich­ment and so­cial em­pow­er­ment of women in Nepal. Be­sides var­i­ous ben­e­fits of eco­tourism, there has been ad­verse ef­fects such as un­wanted pres­sure on nat­u­ral re­sources, en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, loss of nat­u­ral habi­tats and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion, de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources, cul­tural ero­sion and in­crease crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties. So, the plan­ning of eco­tourism needed to be de­vel­oped while em­brac­ing the twin goal of lo­cal de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion. In this process eco­tourism could be a tool to cur­band mass­tourism. The tourism in­dus­try also has even­tu­ally adapted the prin­ci­ples of eco­tourism as its key is­sues in de­vel­op­ing re­spon­si­ble and ad­van­ta­geous tourism in the coun­try. In this early stage of eco­tourism, it is dif­fi­cult to have suf­fi­cient pri­vate agen­cies and lo­cal peo­ple de­liv­er­ing food, lodg­ing, tour man­age­ment and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing peak vis­it­ing sea­son. There is need of proper train­ing on na­ture guid­ing, bak­ing, cook­ing, house­keep­ing, sus­tain­able use of tourism re­sources, proper han­dling of tourism de­mands, ex­per­tise in park man­age­ment and fi­nance man­age­ment. The tourism re­sources need to be uti­lized prop­erly and then eco­tourism can be the best ve­hi­cle to de­liver so­cioe­co­nomic en­hance­ment of re­mote and ru­ral ar­eas and also to safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment of host com­mu­nity. If these could be prac­ticed pos­i­tively and ef­fi­ciently, then the en­tire tourism in­dus­try would flour­ish to its apex lead­ing to the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try.

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