Eco – Tourism:
Eco – Tourism: Steps Towards Sustainable Tourism
Development in Nepal
Eco-tourism is a logical component of eco-development. It is a complex and
multidisciplinary phenomenon and has a tremendous role to play in the
interpretation of nature and natural resources, as well as in the understanding of
human history and its interaction with the rural environment, and the diffusion
of environmental knowledge and awareness. It can serve as an important tool
for environmental education and for raising ecological awareness, both in
tourists and local people, and government officials: Eco-tourism has been
defined by the World Conservation Union as environmentally responsible travel
and visits to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and
appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features – both past and
present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for
beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.
Eco-tourism respects the environment and encourages and promotes the well -
being of local people. Nature tourism may or may not do this. Eco-tourism is
also not to be confused with adventure sports or even snow skiing, amusement
parks etc., which in fact might have a negative impact on the environment. Eco-
tourists likes to go around in a ‘ low impact way ’. Adventure tourists are not
necessarily eco-tourists. However, eco-tourism certainly needs a spirit of an
adventure, especially when negotiating bad roads.
The World Heritage Convention of UNESCO has declared world heritage sites
to preserve and protect our natural and cultural heritage. When both nature and
culture are present together, it is an attractive combination, which we call it as
Eco-tourism development is visualized as a development tool – not just in
promoting tourism growth but also in reducing poverty particularly in the rural
areas. In Nepal, though poverty is widespread and pervasive, it is even more
acute in the mountain areas. Economic pursuits in those areas are limited to
agriculture, livestock and trans-boundary trade. All these activities suffer from
low productivity, and are subsistence oriented. Eco -tourism is expected to
engage them in the higher productivity areas by linking to commercial process,
and marketing chain extending beyond borders.
Nepal ranks among the least-developed countries in the Asian and Pacific
Region. In Fiscal Year 1999, its per capita income was only less than $ 220. Its
high population growth rate landlocked position, low rate of domestic savings, a
harsh terrain that provides few natural resources, and a sensitive physical
environment constrain the economy’s development potential. The government’s
principal efforts are directed toward identifying and mobilizing resources for
balanced economic growth. The sustained development of the tourism sector is
an important way of (i) promoting and managing the country’s cultural,
ecological and environmental heritage; (ii) generating a demand for goods and
services through increased tourist arrivals and higher spending; (iii) increasing
foreign exchange earnings; and (iv) reducing poverty by diversifying the
benefits of tourism, throughout the country. Nepal’s advantage in tourism,
signified by its access to the Himalayas, its unique culture, and its historical
heritage; are universally recognized. The tourism sector has been accorded high
priority by the Government in the Ninth Plan (FY 1998 – FY 2002).
The tourism sector remains one of the country’s largest foreign exchange
earners. During FY 1998 and the sector earned foreign currency equivalent to
NRS 10 billion (approximately $ 161 million) which represented 36 percent of
the total income received from the exports of goods and 15 percent of total
foreign exchange earnings. In 1977, there was an increase of 7.2 percent over
the previous year in total tourist arrivals with the total number reaching
421,857. In 1998, it is estimated that there was an increase by 9.9 percent, with
463,684 tourist arrivals. The growth in tourist arrival has been spurred by the
intrinsic appeal of the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Indian
tourists are particularly attracted to Nepal.
Tourism development has, so far, been concentrated in a few major locations of
the central and eastern areas, and confined to a few major products. While
cultural tourism is centered in and around the capital Katmandu and the town of
Pokhara, trekking is popular in the Khumbu, Langtang and Annapurna regions,
and Chitwan is the focus for Wildlife tourism. The increasing tourist traffic in
these locations has strained the already inadequate infrastructure and caused
environmental degradation in these areas.
In Nepal, good trekking operators have long used kerosene, rather than
firewood, for cooking because of serve deforestation in this country.
All the following organisations actively benefit, in different degrees, from eco-
tourism. Park entrance and excursion fees contribute to both protecting the
wildlife and subsidising the long – term research programmes and facilities
In places like Trishuli River, the establishment of a profitable eco – tourism
industry can start to offer an economic alternative to other forms of
development, such as dams. Royal Chitwan National park, is one of the last
sanctuaries for the endangered one – horned Rhino, Gharial, Crocodile and the
elusive Bengal Tiger. Eco – tourism helps fund these activities, yet without
impinging upon the animals’ habitat.
The following rules should be taken into consideration for the development of
Eco – tourism:
1. The first rule is: should advice the tourists to be in one place during their
2. The second rule of eco -tourism is: should advice not displace any existing
3. The third rule is: should advice to take fewer tourists, who’ll stay longer
and spend more
4. The fourth rule is: should involve the local community
Eco -tourism – In Nepal’s Perspective:
Nepal is well known for its diverse topography, its ecological diversity and rich
biodiversity. The conservation and sustainable use of these natural resources
could contribute significantly to improving the livelihoods of people who have
depended on them for generations.
His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has made several efforts in this regard. The
establishment of protected areas is one notable effort. While there has been
spontaneous tourism development in some of these areas, ecotourism
development in the protected areas has been emphasized and promoted by the
government through various policy instruments. Ecotourism is expected to
make a significant contribution towards achieving the goal of sustainable
Eco-tourism in Nepal is based on three premises, which are (i) promoting
people participation in planning and management of tourism; (ii) increasing
cross-community development, nature conservation and tourism linkages and
(iii) using tourism incomes to safeguard resources on which it is based.
Eco-tourism development is visualized as a development tool – not just in
promoting tourism growth but also in reducing poverty particularly in the rual
areas. In Nepal, though poverty is widespread and pervasive, it is even more
acute in the mountain areas. Economic pursuits in those areas are limited to
agriculture, Livestock and trans-boundary trade. All these activities suffer from
low productivity, and are subsistence oriented. Eco -tourism is expected to
engage them in the higher productivity areas by linking to commercial process,
and marketing chain beyond borders.
The tourism sector remains one of the country’s largest foreign exchange
earners. Tourism development has, so far, been concentrated in a few major
locations of the central and eastern areas, and confined to a few major produc ts.
While cultural tourism is centered in and around the capital Kathmandu and
Pokhara. Trekking is popular in places like Khumbu, Langtang and Annapurna
regions, and Chitwan is focused as Wildlife destination. The increasing tourist
traffic in these areas has stained the already inadequate infrastructure and
caused environmental degradation in these areas.
Promotions of eco -tourism entails, adhering to certain norms and regulations
that tourism entrepreneurs may at times find their interest in the short run. They
may not feel very strongly about environmental concerns, which curtail their
short-term profitability. This might make them resist eco-tourism itself.
In Nepal, the eco-tourism development programs are being managed by NGOs
and the foremost problem is how far NGOs can succeed in fulfilling the
objectives set forth by the eco-tourism programme.
Current State of Eco-tourism in Nepal:
“ Eco-tourism ” is not a precise term. Rather than spend time debating
definitions in relation to its scope in Nepal, for the purposes of Strategy, a broad
definition of sustainable tourism or eco-tourism was adopted as:
“any style and type of tourism that has the potential to bring benefits to the local
economy whilst contributing to natural and cultural resource conservation ”
Among Nepal’s unique styles of eco-tourism, most famous in mountain
trekking. Recognised as a major part of the industry, trekking in Nepal
Himalaya involves people walking either alone or accompanied by trekking
agents’ support staff and staying in either local houses or tents.
Visitors are drawn to Nepal by its unparalleled natural beauty, the challenge of
its terrain, its rich wildlife and unique cultural heritage. Tourism in Nepal varies
from less adventurous pleasurable activities such as village visits, home-stays,
and half to full day walking and hiking circuits for non-trekkers, to the
adventurous and challenging trekking, mountaineering and whitewater rafting.
This combination of spectacular and diverse tourism resources and a largely
rural based population, coupled with the pressing need to deliver development
to the remote rural areas, have necessitated the development of eco-tourism in
This chapter deals with the country’s geographical context, in terms of
biodiversity and human geography, the development of tourism, its
environmental impact, and the history and status of eco-tourism and its impact.
It also discusses the efforts made at eco-tourism development and describes
some potential sites for ecotourism.
Geographical C ontext: Biodiversity
With an area of 147,181 sq. km, Nepal is a country of enormous physical
diversity (UNEP, 2001). Even across a distance of 150 km south -north the
elevation rises from less than 100 meters above mean sea level to the peak of Mt
Everest at 8,848 meter, the highest point on the earth. Due to this tremendous
altitudinal variation, the country embraces all climate types from tropical to
The country consists of five physiographical regions; the high Himalayan
terrain (23 percent of the land area) above the tree line, the forested high
mountains (20 percent), the middle mountains of central Nepal (30 percent), the
Siwaliks or foothills (13 percent), and the tropical lowlands of the Terai (14
percent) adjacent to Indian border, extending in parallel bands from the northern
to southern border. Altogether 38 percent of the country is estimated to be
forested, with extensive tree cover found mainly in the Siwaliks, the middle
mountains and the high mountains below the tree line (IUCN, 1991).
Phytogeographically, central Asiatic floral elements reach up to the northern
foot of the Himalayas. The southern foothills of Nepal are mostly dominated by
Indo-Gangetic floral elements. Eastern and central Nepalese flora shows a close
resemblance to the Sino-Japanese floristic province. The western Nepalese flora
has similarities with the Irano-Tourranean, which in its widest sense is a part of
the Mediterranean territory. It is one of the priority areas of global biodiversity
Though the country occupies just 0.03 percent of the world’s landmass, it
accounts for 2.04 percent of flowering higher plants, 8.6 percent of birds, 4.27
percent of mammals, and 0.21 percent of fishes of the world. There are 213
families, 1,496 genera and 5,833 species of flowering plants and gymnosperms
in Nepal (UNEP, 2001). Experts estimate that there are about 6,973 species of
higher plants in the country, of which 315 species are endemic to Nepal.
Altogether 9 plants species are evaluated as endangered, 7 as threatened and 27
as rare species. Nepal has plants up to 6,300 meter in the Himalayas (Weaver,
So far 847 birds (two endemic), and 185 mammals (one endemic), 100 reptiles,
43 amphibians, 185 of fresh water fishes, 656 species of butterflies and 144
species of spiders have been recorded (UNEP, 2001). At present, 26 mammals,
9 birds and 3 reptiles are listed as endangered. They also find mention in the
world listings of endangered animals (MoPE, 2000).
Population growth and urbanization have caused deterioration of the natural
environment in Nepal. Forest depletion is one of the major environmental issues
in the country, with significant implications for soil and slope stability. Forests
have decreased in both area and density over the last few decades. Between
1978/79 and 1994, the estimated annual rate of deforestation in the hills was 2.3
percent compared to 21.3 percent in Terai, while it was 1.7 percent for the
whole country. In the same period, forests decreased by 24 percent but there
was increase in shrub area by 126 percent. This was mainly due to uncontrolled
cutting of trees for fuel wood and forest clearance for expansion of agricultural
land. The agricultural area increased from 235,900 ha in 1980 to 2,968,000 ha
within five years; then it remained constant up to 1999. This increase was
mainly due to encroachment for agriculture and other developmental
construction works and human settlements (UNEP, 2001). The other stresses are
landslides, soil erosion and flooding.
The population of the country has grown steadily. The population growth rate
has never dropped below 2 percent since 1961. It is expected to reach 24 million
by 2008 (UNEP, 2001). Two thirds of the total population resides in the middle
mountains, including in the capital Kathmandu. Nepal ranks among the world’s
least developed states with life expectancy at 53.5 years and an infant mortality
rate of 99 per 1000 live births (Weaver, 2001).
Although tourism in Nepal grew and actually flourished after the first scaling of
Mt. Everest in 1953, it is characterized by the presence of fairly large proportion
of tourists who remain in the urban areas. Even those who travel out of these
areas invariably head to some of the protected areas that are major destinations.
This pattern has created pressure on environmental resources in Nepal.
Trends in Tourism Growth
Nepal opened up to the rest of the world only during the early fifties. In the
early days, tourism in Nepal was mainly concentrated in the Kathmandu valley
and only a few mountaineers visited the Everest and Annapurna regions that are
still major attractions today. With the increase in tourist numbers, Nepal
developed the necessary infrastructure to support tourism development—an
international airport in Katmandu, a full-fledged hotel sector, construction of
domestic air-strips, establishment of public and private tourism related
institutions, and travel and trekking agencies, all became instrumental to the
growth of the tourism industry in the coun try. As a result of all these endeavors,
tourist numbers started to soar, from merely 4,017 in the 1960s to over 162,870
by 1980 and 254,885 in 1990. By 2000, with the joint efforts of government and
a well established private sector, tourist numbers had reached about half a
million (Figure 4.1). However, arrivals registered a sharp drop during 2001-
2002 (MoCTCA, 2002).
Fig 4.1: Tourist Arrival, 1960-2002
No. of Tourists
Source: MoCTCA, 2002.
The Middle -East crisis in 1981, transit treaty deadlock with India in 1989 and
Gulf war in 1990 adversely affec ted tourism during the Eighties and early
Nineties. The Nineties also marked the growth and spread of the Maoist
insurgency in Nepal. Tourism in Nepal was also negatively affected by the 9/11
incident in the US. The Royal tragedy in 2002, followed by the d ismissal of the
House of Representatives and the elected government only worsened the
political situation in the country. Political parties took to the streets agitating for
the restoration of democracy. Frequent bandhas (shutdowns) particularly during
and after 2000 added to the domestic problems. All these incidents combined
together to create a difficult security situation, negatively impacting the tourism
industry in the country.
Despite the troubled situation, the number of tourists steadily grew until 2000
and helped the ailing industry to survive. However, the drop in numbers after
2000 presents an alarming situation not only for the tourism industry but the
national economy as well (Fig 4.1).
On regional basis tourist arrivals to Nepal for the year 2000 were recorded as 48
percent from Asia, about 35 percent from Western Europe, 10 percent from
North America and 3 percent from Australia and the Pacific (Table 4.1).
Therefore, tourists from Western European and Asia, which includes Japanese
visitors play key role in tourism development.
Table 4.1: Tourist Arrivals by Continent
Region 199 199 199 199 200 200 200 Perc
6 7 8 9 0 1 2 ent
Asia 205 222 240 249 224 164 148 54.0
809 849 460 793 532 989 670
West 132 137 151 164 159 131 879 31.9
Europe 787 028 070 913 325 661 12
North 306 363 430 469 490 391 212 7.7
Americ 35 01 38 10 32 20 65
Australi 122 130 146 152 156 130 842 3.1
a and 33 47 35 07 41 36 0
East 611 641 674 672 699 620 527 1.9
Europe 4 6 1 3 2 1 6
Central/ 423 455 593 609 607 463 279 1.0
South 0 4 7 6 6 4 3
Africa 177 164 179 185 204 159 113 0.4
5 5 5 7 0 6 2
Others 30 17 8 5 8 0 0 0.0
Total 393 421 463 491 463 361 275 100.
613 857 684 504 646 237 468 0
Source: MoCTCA, 2002.
Tourist Arrivals in March 2004 (by air only)
Rapid Growth in Indian Arrivals
A 60% increase was observed in the number of visitors coming to Nepal by air
for the month of March 2004. This was revealed on figures released today by
Department of Immigration. And, in comparison to the same period last year,
this is actually a net gain of 11,649 visitors. Total number of tourist visiting
Nepal for the month remained at 31,198. The market composition indicates that
third country figures went up by 54% and Indian arrivals by 80%.
After the successful launch of Pashupati Darshan Package in the India since
January 2004, arrivals from India have been surging. This month however along
with India, all the major markets listed have shown highly positive performance.
There was increase in arrivals from USA by 54 per cent, UK by 53 percent,
Germany by 33 pe r cent and Japan by 3 percent.
Chinese market is already showing signs of improvement after the launch of Air
China on the 30th of this month. The market has grown by 76% compared to
same period last year.
The figures clearly suggest that the upbeat performance of tourist arrival in
Nepal could have gone further by substantial portion if there were no blockades
in some part of the country which led to the tour cancellations and shortening of
trips of the visitors.
However compared to the figures of March 1999, when air arrival was 36,646,
the figures of March 2004 is still low by 15%. On the other hand, an estimate
suggests that the bed nights consumption of the accommodation sector in Nepal
since 1999 has decreased by 54% till 2003. But with the growth o f
approximately 20% registered accommodation capacity since 1999, the demand
of hotel accommodation sector in Nepal is running highly under utilized.
NTB CEO, Mr. Tek Bahadur Dangi expressing his view on the performance of
March 2004, said, because of the focused marketing approach of NTB under the
guidance of HMG for Regional Tourism Promotion Campaign and collaboration
with RNAC, Pashupati Area Development Trust and other private sector
associations and partners, arrival has picked up well. He further added that in
the context of growing consumer confidence towards Nepal there is a need of
further co-operation from all the concerned sectors to keep this upward trend
ongoing. This will further enhance the benefits of tourism to all sectors of
society down the grass root level people.
The third country total, which stood at 23,270, had the market share of 75% for
the month showing that the market is increasing over the months.
Highlights: International Visitor Arrivals for the month of March 2004
· India up 80% to 7,928 visitors
· Japan up 3% to 2,530 visitors
. USA up 54% to 2,002 visitors
· UK up 53% to 2,520 visitors
. Germany up 33% to 1,976 visitors.
Tourist Arrivals in April 2004 (by air only)
Arrivals On The Steady Growth
Figures released today by Department of Immigration indicate a 46% growth in
the number of visitors coming to Nepal by air for the month of April 2004,
which reached the total of 30,402 visitors over 20,799 last April. This is
contributed by a healthy growth of 49% amongst third country and 39%
amongst Indian visitors. A very positive note for the month being an increase in
arrival from almost all the leading markets to Nepal.
Indian arrivals continued its double-digit growth followed by other Asian
countries like Japan, China, R OC (Taiwan), Bangladesh, Israel and Sri Lanka.
The Asian markets have also enhanced their market share to almost 45% in
The major long haul markets like Germany, UK, France and Australia
performed positively for the month. Arrivals from UK went up by 7%, USA by
31% and German market was up by 19%. The French, Italian and the Dutch
arrivals grew remarkably by 61%, 76% and 50% respectively.
The possibility of additional growth in April 2004 has been badly affected by
various factors. Firstly, the political crisis (Bandhs, strikes and closures) led to
series of cancellations and shortening of trips by visitors willing to visit Nepal.
A study conducted by Nepal Tourism Board among 65 tourist service providers
(travel agents, hotels, lodges, trekking age nts) within Kathmandu shows that
one day strike leads to an average of 60% reservation cancellations by the
tourists. The survey also indicated that the five star hotels of Kathmandu
showed an average of 60% occupancy for the month. While the lodges seemed
to have higher occupancy rate, the hotels from 4 to 2 star category had the
occupancy of 38% for the month.
Secondly, reductions in incoming flights in April in some sectors have added to
slow down the arrivals.
NTB CEO, Mr. Tek Bahadur Dangi, commenting on the arrival figures and
study findings said that the absence of above mentioned factors would have
substantially enhanced the growth further by 20 to 30% in April 2004. He
further added that compared to 1999 figures the arrivals in April is still down by
15%. The total air arrival in April 1999 was 35,818.
Highlights: International Visitor Arrivals for the month of April 2004
· India up 39% to 7,511 visitors
· Japan up 23% to 1,904 visitors
· USA up 31% to 1,815 visitors
. UK up 7% to 2,216 visitors
. France up 61% to 2,405 visitors
. Germany up 19% to 1,413 visitors
. China up 107% to 755 visitors
Tourist Arrivals in June 2004 (by air only)
Half year marks 37% growth
Visitors coming to Nepal by air in June 2004 increased by 5% compared to
same period last year, while the market segments viz. third country grew by
31% and Indians went down by 8%. This was observed in the figures released
today by Department of Immigration.
Half way through 2004 (January-June), visitor's number grew by 37% compared
to first six months of 2003, reaching the total of 149,556 visitors. This is
contributed by 48% increase in third country visitor arrivals and 18% growth in
In June, however, the arrivals from India observed the first ever decline for the
year. This is largely due to the non-availability of some regular air seats in the
Indo-Nepal sector. According to industry sources, transporters strike called
during June 1-4th, Bandh called on June 2nd and further confusion of Bandhs
led to series of c ancellations in June. However, with the recent addition of two
new private airlines from India, it is widely speculated that the figures are
subject to grow rapidly July onwards.
In the third country segment, the major markets for Nepal, the Japanese and
American ascended by 12% and 34% respectively. The European market if
taken in a single segment with countries like Germany, France, Netherlands,
Austria, UK, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Spain and Italy, a growth of 80%
could be seen for June 2004. But this growth is largely due to the smaller base
in 2003 June, when visitors number had sharply declined.
NTB CEO Mr. Tek Bahadur Dangi, commenting on the figures said that, half-
year growth indicates a promising year ahead. With the present welcoming
climate for tourists within the country and more airlines flying into Nepal, he
assured that the growth rate would continue for the rest of the year too.
In comparison to 1999 June, when the arrival numbers was 27,728, the figures
of last month are still low by 33%.
Highlights: International Visitor Arrivals for the month of June 2004
· UK up 15% to 687 visitors
. US up 34% to 1,370 visitors
. Germany up 82% to 426 visitors
· Japan up 12% to 482 visitors
. France up 29% to 268 visitors
. China up 295% to 336 visitors
· India down 8% to 10,986 visitors
Tourist Arrivals in August 2004 (by air only)
High Growth from Spain and Italy
Visitors coming to Nepal by air route during the month of August 2004
recorded a increment of 3% compared to same period last year. This was
indicated in the figures released today by Immigration Office Tribhuvan
International Airport. The growth observed for the non-Indian market stood at
17% while the Indian market crashed by 22%.
In comparison to August 2003, among the non-Indian segments the biggest
growth came from Spanish and Italian markets by 91% and 102% respectively.
These two markets have singly contributed to 25% of share in arrivals for the
month. Arrival from these markets normally peaks up during the month of
August. The arrival of French visitors has also gone up by 7%. However, the
other major non-Indian markets for Nepal, American, German and British have
all gone down. Similarly, Indian market has gone down to contribute only 27%
in arrival number due to its sharp decline. This is the third consecutive month
that Indian visitors arrivals has shown a steady decline for the year.
The strikes called at various times are partially responsible for the decline in
visitors' numbers from some markets.
Highlights: International Visitors Arrival for the month of August 2004
· Spain up 91% to 3,345 visitors
. Italy up 102% to 2,476 visitors
. France up 7% to 1,193 visitors
. India down 22% to 5,960 visitors
· US down 14% to 1,014 visitors
. Germany down 23% to 708 visitors
· Japan down 1% to 1,460 visitors
. China down 1% to 349 visitors.
Tourist Arrivals in September 2004 (by air only)
September Witnesses Decline
Tourist arrival figures in September has registered a decrease by 21 percent
compared to the same month last year. September witnessed a decrease in
arrivals from both Indian and third country market. The decrease in Indian
tourist arrivals by 43 percent has been accompanied by 13 percent decrease
from the third countries, the first negative growth in 2004. The tota l arrival in
September has reached to 18785 with 15370 arrivals from third countries and
3415 from India.
The sharp fall in arrivals from Indian market has made the share of Indian
market in total arrivals fall to 18 percent, which generally used to be around
one-third of the total. Most of the third countries have registered negative
growth. Australia, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway have registered
positive growth though other major tourist generating markets have recorded
discouraging figures. Both the UK and the USA markets have shown decrease
by 21 percent and 16 percent respectively along with the negative growth from
Belgium, Canada, China, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, etc.
Tourist arrivals from neigh-bouring and long-haul destinations in September
seem to be affected due to frequent strikes, riots, curfew, blockade, and other
discouraging circumstances in the country. The riots of 1 September that
followed the brutal killings of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq and the negative
coverage of media have further deteriorated the situation. An informal survey of
Nepal tourism Board conducted after the riots of 1 September (Bhadra 16) has
shown that more than 25 percent bookings of hotel sector have been cancelled.
Despite the negative growth in September, tourism industry still firmly deserves
the sign of hope. The last nine months in total arrivals have recorded a positive
growth of 21 percent with 32 percent of growth in third country markets alone
and a small growth of 3 percent in Indian market.
The total air arrival in September 1999 was 38435.
Highlights: International Visitors Arrival for the month of September 2004
Italy up 18% to 566 visitors
Netherlands up 18% to 562 visitors
India down 43% to 3,415 visitors
US down 21% to 1,269 visitors
Germany down 2% to 1430 visitors
Japan down 22% to 1,158 visitors
China down 14% to 480 visitors
UK down 16% to 1572
Visitor Arrivals in October 2004 (by air only)
October Marks Slowdown in Decline
A total of 33,510 international visitors entered Nepal by air in October 2004
comprising of 5,268 Indians and 28,242 non-Indian and indicating a decrease by
12% in total figures relative to the same period previous year. This was
observed in the figures released today by the Immigration Office at Tribhuvan
International Airport Kathmandu.
Compared to 21% decline last month in September, October is taken as better
performing month owing to various international events like the "Grand Golden
Jubilee of Mount Cho-Oyu after Mt. Everest" that took place in Nepal during
October 17th 19th.
The Indian arrivals showed a major decline for the month, which went down by
31% and has been continually decreasing over the last four months. The non-
Indian segment decreased by 8% in comparison to last October. There were
mixed results from major markets. There were gains from Australian (33%),
British (6%), French (4%), Dutch (20%), Spanish (24%) and German (2%)
markets where as loss from American (-20%), Japanese (-20%), Italian (-5%)
and Chinese (-30%)markets.
Various strikes and closures in the past were mainly responsible to reduce
Indian visitor's number to Nepal. Owing to the decreasing Indian consumer
confidence towards Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Royal Nepal
Airlines Corporation (RNAC) have collaboratively launched a special two and
half months’ campaign (October 15th - December 31st 2004) to attract more
Indian tourists. The non-Indian segment that was previously badly hit by the
security concerns gradually enhanced as the situation improved over the festival
season in October in Nepal.
Highlights: International Visitors Arrivals (by air) for the month of October
· UK up 6% to 3,424 visitors
· Germany up 2% to 2,775 visitors
· France up 4% to 3,382 visitors
· Australia up 33% to 1,305 visitors
· India down 31% to 5,268 visitors
· US down 20% to 2,223 visitors
· Japan down 20% to 1,806 visitors
· China down 30% to 467 visitors
Components of the Nepalese Tourism Industry
Of the total arrivals in 1999 around three-fifths came for holiday or pleasure and
a little more than one-fifth came for trekking and mountaineering. The rest came
on business, pilgrimage, and for official purposes. Although there is great
potential for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism
in Nepal, it currently accounts for only one percent of total arrivals (Figure 4.2).
Fig 4.2: Purpose of Visit 1999
5% 1% 4%
22% 59% Conference
Source: Awasthi, et al., 2001.
Environmental and Social Influence of Tourism
The increase in tourism demands for new goods and services often places
additional pressure on scarce resources and results in the destruction or
depletion of natural areas and the loss of habitat, to the extent that the very
survival of some species is threatened. Other results might include landslides
and erosion, depletion of ground water reserves and despoliation of scenic
vistas. Tourism is a symbol of the affluent western lifestyle and consumerism
(Gurung, 1995). Many trekking routes are littered with plastics, cans, bottles, tin
foils and other refuse, which is mainly due to presence of visitors in these areas.
All these eventually become agents for environmental degradation.
Furthermore, many local traditions and habits have come under the influence
particularly of western people. As a result generations-old traditions and
cultures have been negatively impacted in many areas. This is common among
porters and trekking guides of the younger generation who come into direct
contact with tourists, to the extent that some of them leave the country to go to
the west and work. The increased use of drugs and growth of criminal activities
are also linked to tourism (Gurung, 1995).
On the positive side, tourism is increasingly seen one of the catalysts for
environmental conservation. As a result, several pilot programs have been
designed to promote tourism that achieves the twin goals of local development
and environmental conservation, eventually opening up new opportunities for
State of Ecotourism in Nepal
Based on past experience ecotourism development in Nepal can be viewed from
two perspectives, viz. projects conceived and developed as ecotourism projects
such as Ghalegaon - Sikles Ecotourism Project, and initiatives that consist
strong ecotourism components such as in most protected areas. There are other
in itiatives that do not mention explicitly an association with ecotourism but
since they embrace principles of ecotourism they too are considered as a
contribution to the development of ecotourism. Therefore, the discussion on
ecotourism in Nepal that follows is viewed from these perspectives.
The Magnitude of Ecotourism
A plethora of definitions of ecotourism have been worked out by practitioners
and academicians. However, what invariably remains as the essence of each and
every definition is that ecotourism is “travel to natural areas with the motive of
education leading to environmental conservation and local economic benefits”.
By this definition, except for tourism in urban areas such as Kathmandu and
Pokhara valleys, tourism in Nepal mostly involves traveling to natural and less-
developed areas for adventure and to experience varying socio-cultural and
environmental settings. As such, the bulk of tourism in Nepal embraces strong
elements of 'ecotourism' or 'nature tourism'. Therefore, the nature of tourism that
is being practiced in Nepal makes it ‘ecotourism' (Gurung, 1995).
With its spectacular natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Nepal has a
comparative advantage in terms of ecotourism development. Further, as trekkers
in Nepal are inevitably attracted to landscape and biodiversity, and nature
tourists for wandering through the mountains, Nepal presents an excellent
example of a destination where ecotourism overlaps with adventure tourism and
the two are often indistinguishable.
Besides the major trekking routes in the Annapurna, Khumbu and Langtang
areas, protected areas have a major role in ecotourism. With more than 18
percent of the country's land being covered by protected areas, and more than 50
percent of tourists to Nepal visiting at least one of these areas, the protected area
network plays an important role in eco-tourism development in Nepal.
Therefore, the very nature of tourism has led to the protected area and
community based eco-tourism in Nepal. Gurung and De Coursey (1994)
estimated that 70,000 of 270,000 or 26 percent of the total visitors in 1991 were
specialist trekkers, while another 60 percent arrived for some combination of
trekking, jungle safaris, river rafting and ethnic touring. This would broadly
imply that as many as 80 percent of international tourists in Nepal were
involved in some form of eco-tourism. This finding suggests that eco -tourism
shares major part of the income from tourism in the country. However, it could
be proved only after a detailed study.
Impact of Eco-tourism in Nepal:
Economic impacts are the most measurable impacts of eco-tourism in an area.
Though, the positive impacts are always the more desired ones, there are some
negative impacts as well. The economic impacts in Nepal can broadly be
assessed in terms of foreign exchange earnings and employment, and catalyst
for regional growth.
Source of Foreign Exchange:
His Majesty’s Government (HMG) of Nepal recognizes tourism as a priority
sector and a major contributor to Nepal’s economy. It generates about US$ 170
million annually, which amounts to roughly 4 percent of the GDP and 15
percent of foreign exchange earnings. Tourism provides direct and indirect
employment to over 200,000 people. Tourist per capita expenditure was US$
499 in 1980/1981 but dropped to US$ 474 in 1995. Since then per capita
expenditure has dropped to US$ 400 in 1997 (NTB, 2001).
Despite the downsides discussed earlier, tourism has been widely recognized for
its role in employment generation and contribution to the national economy.
Trekking is recognized as a major part of this industry. It involves people
walking either alone or in group or accompanied by trekking support staff and
staying in either local houses or tents. This type of tourism activity is able to
spread tourism benefits to areas that are only accessible on foot.
Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), Sagarmatha (Everest) and Langtang
National Park host more than 90 percent of trekkers in Nepal (MoCTCA,
1999/2000). Apart from trekking tourism, mountaineering is equally important
to the tourism industry in Nepal. In 1998, altogether 141 mountaineering
expedition teams came to Nepal, with a total expenditure of over US$ 5.6
million (MoCTCA, 1999/2000); but there were only 132 mountaineering
expeditions in 2000 and revenues of US$ 9.74 million (KC, 2002).
As mentioned earlier, a significant proportion of tourists visit places other than
Kathmandu and Pokhara helping to spread tourism income in the rural and
remote areas of the country. However, there remain some leakages, especially in
the goods and services that need to be imported from other countries. A study,
carried out by Baskota and Sharma (1996) at Ghandruk and Ghorepani of
Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), revealed that a significant portion of
expenditure on food products spills out as leakage through imports. Appropriate
measures are needed to increase retention of tourism income in local areas.
Local entrepreneurship development through local technology and food
production can reduce leakage and enrich the economy of host areas.
Tourism can generate jobs directly through hotels, restaurants, taxis, and
souvenir sales, local guides and indirectly through the supply of goods and
services needed by tourism related business. In 2002, it was estimated that the
tourism and travel economy created 714,991 jobs, or some 6.8 percent of total
employment. By 2012, it is envisaged to be about 1,115,670 jobs or 7.9 percent
of total employment (NTB, 2001). Therefore, tourism has the potential to be an
important employment provider in the country.
Tourism can be used as a tool for regional growth, especially in a country like
Nepal where there is much regional imbalance in terms of development. The
impressive growth of Pokhara is a good example of how tourism can contribute
to economic growth. Similarly, settlements along the trekking routes in ACA
have received tourism benefits (Pradhan, 2000), which have contributed to
development of the Annapurna region.
The induced infrastructural improvements such as better water and sewage
systems, electricity and telephone can improve the quality of life for residents as
well as facilitate tourism. There are several such examples in ACA (Pradhan,
Eco-tourism can offer opportunities for generating local revenues through
informal employment - informal guides, vendors, and by making involvement in
local culture and festivals, local souvenirs production and more. The positive
side of such informal employment is that eco-tourism incomes are returned to
the local economy and have a greater multiplier effect.
There are examples to show that tourism can bring about changes in other
dimensions of socia l development. For instance, because of higher incomes,
many parents of Manang District of Annapurna Conservation Area can now
afford to send their children to high schools and universities in Kathmandu
(Schmelzer, 2000). This will in due course lead to considerable social
improvement on all fronts.
Social Impacts of Ecotourism:
Tourism can bring about both positive and negative socio-cultural changes. For
instance, the Sherpas in well known tourism destinations are involved with the
cash economy as a result of tourism and have therefore become more
westernized. But, they have apparently not lost the essence of their cultural
identity and have even developed an enhanced sense of ethnic pride because of
the value placed on their services and culture by tourists (Weaver, 2001).
Unlike the above example, tourism has also been a catalyst for socio -cultural
change. The Tharus of Terai used to rest their oxen for two days a month. These
two days are referred to as barna days and are an integral part of Tharu culture.
If someone breached this rule and put the oxen to work, he was fined and
compelled to pay a certain amount into the community fund. In Sauraha, the
settlement near the Royal Chitwan National Park, some Tharu farmers earn a bit
of money by transporting tourists to the main roads on ox carts. Initially, these
people refused to ferry tourists on barna days. But then there were several
incidents during which tourists criticized farmers for what they considered
typical unreliability. The Tharu farmers were in a bind. They had either to break
with tradition or forego their extra income. Most of them decided in favor of the
good deal and working the oxen on barna days has come to be tolerated and no
more fines are imposed (Boeker, 2000).
Environmental Impacts of Eco-tourism:
Trekking and mountaineering tourism can have environmental impacts. The
concerns are over the magnitude of such impacts. Although eco-tourists are
motivated to preserve the environment, there can be many negative impacts
(Shrestha and Walinga, 2003). Some of these are mentioned below:
• Eco-tourists often go to environmentally fragile areas, such as the
• Visit may occur during sensitive periods such as during breeding or
• Visit by eco -tourists eventually may lead to mass tourism at the site, such
that the ultimate impact is much greater than the initial impact.
• Visit may cause off-site impacts, such as the consumption of airplane
The impacts of all these factors can take several forms such as water pollution,
visual pollution (pollution of natural beauty due to construction of buildings in a
haphazard manner), land use pollution and ecological disruption. For instance,
although the valley between Pisang and Manang is broad and there is enough
room for further expansion, all the new constructions are being built only along
the trekking route spoiling the natural beauty of the route (Schmelzer, 2000).
Besides the above-mentioned off-site impacts, tourism can bring on site impacts
like soil erosion and compaction, disturbance to wildlife, trampling of
vegetation, accidental introduction of exotic plants and increased frequency of
forest fires. For example, most of the natural vegetation between Bhratang,
Khangsar and Thorung Pass has been destroyed. Coniferous and birch forests at
an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 meters could be maintained only at a few locations.
Demand for new pastures, arable land, firewood and timber has forced people to
clear forests. As a consequence, the soil has dried up and eroded at several
places. Yaks, cows, goats and sheep also destroy a lot of vegetation and increase
pressure on land. The steep slopes in the vicinity of Khangsar and Yakgawa
Kang of Manang are extremely susceptible to soil erosion (Schmelzer, 2000).
The inappropriate disposal of litter and human waste, the gathering of fuelwood
and the establishment of permanent constructions such as lodges add to the
environmental problems. The litter problem is so widespread such that it has
affected Mt. Everest itself. In 1984, a team of Sherpa guides removed over
1,000 bags of trash from the lower elevations of Mt. Everest (Richter, 1989) and
16 tons of plastic were removed in 1996 from the top of the mountain (Weaver,
The Annapurna region has witnessed overcrowding and associated
environmental stress. There has tended to be a bottleneck of trekker activity in
the Annapurna Sanctuary, at the base of the Thorong Pass and within Ghorepani
village, where major trails intersect (Gurung and Coursey, 1994). The
consequences are haphazard development of lodges and other services that has
undermined the aesthetic appeal of the region (Shackley, 1996). This in addition
to the activities of trekkers has been linked to various environmental problems.
The lodges in just one small village along the major hiking routes are estimated
to consume one hectare of virgin rhododendron forest per year to meet the needs
of trekkers, and many of the more frequented routes are known disparagingly as
‘toilet paper trails’ (Gurung, 1992).
Deforestation to fulfill fuelwood needs has been cited as major problem in the
Khumbu region. According to Richter (1989), each trekker in the late 1970s
used 106 kg of fuelwood for a 15-day trek, and only 7 percent bothered to carry
their own fuel. This caused widespread deforestation, particularly along the
trails. Though Government regulations were introduced requiring trekkers to
carry their own fuelwood, they are not followed along all the trekking routes.
Spatial and Temporal Concentration of Visitation:
Trekking and mountaineering tourism in Nepal are characterized by several
levels of concentration. The concentration of visitors within some of the major
protected areas, and that too along just few major trekking routes, is often
highlighted as a limiting trend that deprives other potential areas of the benefits
of such tourism. In addition, only a few settlements with tourism facilities are
able to reap the benefits. Others, particularly those who are not involved in
tourism, have hardly anything to do other than watching visitors pass by. Also,
there are issues of temporal concentrations associated with monsoon
precipitation (Zurick, 1992; Pradhan, 2000).
Alienation of Local People:
The tourism industry in Nepal has been associated with several socio-cultural
problems. For instance, the establishment of Rara National Park in 1972
involved relocation of several hundreds of Chhetri people from their traditional
homeland, thereby forcing them to engage in deforestation of their new territory
(Eber, 1992). Alienation has also resulted from instances where tourism has
brought inadequate financial benefits, in contrast to the apparent material
prosperity conferred upon the Sherpas of Khumbu. Resentment also arose when
Upper Mustang was opened to tourism, as incoming trekkers were compelled by
the Government to join fully self -contained tenting groups that employed non-
locals. 'Trekker medicine' is another phenomenon, which refers to the new
practice where local villagers expect the advice and drugs of trekkers to cure
their own ailments. The consequence of such practices is often detrimental to
the native people (Ritcher, 1989).
The situation in Royal Chitawan National Park is different. Encroachment, over
harvesting of forest resources and park-people con flicts are some of the notable
problems being encountered by the National Park. Altogether 70 percent of the
Park budget is used to support the army deployed for the security of the
National Park (Parker, 1993). This amount could be used for other construc tive
work for the benefit of local people.
Efforts at Eco -tourism Development: Eco-tourism and Protected Areas
The growth in tourism was accompanied by a growth in undesirable socio-
cultural and environmental problems in the destination areas. This situation
called for special efforts to protect the environmental integrity and ensure
development of the host areas. As a result, several protected areas including
environmental projects with a strong tourism development component came into
existence. A brief account of eco-tourism in the frequently visited protected
areas is presented in the following paragraphs:
Royal Chitwan National Park:
Various projects that aim to generate awareness on eco-tourism have been
successfully run in Chitwan National Park, the biggest National Park in the
country. The translocation of one horned rhinoceros, due to the increase in their
numbers and to create a second viable wild population, and preservation of
Royal Bengal Tiger in Chitwan National Park are taken as examples of
successful operation of eco-tourism projects in Nepal (KC, 2002).
Sagarmatha National Park:
Sagarmatha National Park became a major attraction for tourists after Mt
Everest was scaled in 1953. Thousands of people visit this region every year.
Altogether 22,029 visitors (second highest number among the PAs) visited SNP
in 2001 (MoCTCA, 2002). The trekking route from Namche to Kala Pathar is
popular among tourists. Gokyo Lake and Chukung valleys also provide
spectacular views. Similarly, the Thame valley is well recognized for Sherpa
culture while Phortse is known for wildlife watching (Also see Chapter 5).
Langtang National Park:
Langtang National Park was declared to conserve central Himalayan ecosystem
of the country. Rich in floral and faunal diversity, this park, has spectacular
mountains namely Langtang and beautiful lakes like Gosainkunda,
Bhairabkunda which carry great religious importance. Langtang, Helambu and
Gosainkunda are its well known trekking routes. Due to its close proximity to
Kathmandu and easy road access, this park has become popular tourist
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP):
Since its inception in 1986, ACAP has been successful in gradually changing
the traditional subsistence activities into a framework of sound resource
management, supplemented by conservation, development of alternative energy
programs to minimize the negative impacts of tourism and to enhance the living
standards of local people. It follows the principles of maximum people's
partic ipation, sustainability and a catalyst's role. ACAP is spread across 5
districts of the Western Development Region of Nepal and covers 55 VDCs. It
is divided into seven unit conservation offices located in Jomsom, Manang, Lo-
Monthang, Bhujang, Lwang, Sikles and Ghandruk (Awasthi et al., 2001).
The focus in Jomsom, Manang and Ghandruk, which are also popular trekking
areas, is on integrated tourism management and agro-pastoralism. The program
priorities for Bhujang, Sikles and Lwang are poverty alleviatio n and integrated
agriculture and livestock development, agro-forestry and community
development. The focus in Lo -Monthang, upper Mustang, which came under
the jurisdiction of ACAP in 1992, has been managing controlled tourism on a
sustainable basis and pro moting heritage conservation, which is the major
tourist attraction along with alternative energy, resource conservation and
community development programs. The Conservation Education and Extension
Project (CEEP) being implemented across the ACAP working area forms the
backbone of all the conservation efforts in the region. ACAP has completed its
management plan and is implementing the recommendation of its plan that
emphasizes building the capacity of local institution to carry out the present
activities of ACAP. The Conservation Area Management Committee is
entrusted with the responsibility to manage, utilize and protect all the natural
resources within its respective VDCs.
After the success in ACAP, efforts are being made to replicate the lessons
learned in Kangchenjunga, Dolpa and Humla in Himalayan region, and Palpa
and Lumbini in mid-mountain and Terai regions, respectively (KC, 2002).
The ACA has been a prime destination for trekkers ever since it was opened up
for visitors. For instance, of the tota l 100,828 trekkers in Nepal during 2001, 65
percent visited the ACA; this figure dropped slightly during 2002 (MoCTCA,
2002). Further, Fig 4.3 suggests a steady growth in tourism influx in ACA. The
ACAP is authorized to collect entry fees from visitors and the revenue from
trekking has been used to create an endowment fund with the objective of
financial self -sustainability. Because of the contribution of tourism to
conservation and development it has now become part of the life of people in
Today ACAP is recognized as a model conservation project throughout the
world because of its outstanding contribution to natural resource conservation
and community development. This has been made possible due to able KMTNC
management, which diverts significant proportion of the tourism revenue into
conservation and development activities. This has brought positive results to the
livelihoods of the people of ACAP.
In summary, due to its success in conserving local resources while also
providing visitor satisfaction and local community development, ACA is today
a widely known conservation area and destination not only in Nepal but in other
parts of the world as well.
Ghalegaon Sikles Ecotourism Project (GSEP):
Realizing the need for environmentally sound and sustainable tourism that
contributes to conservation of natural resources and local community
development, KMTNC/ ACAP designated GSEP as a model trekking route
between Ghalegaon and Sikles in western Nepal in 1992. The Asian
Development Bank funded the GSEP as a part of the “Tourism Infrastructure
This project, which involved foot-trail construction, forest zoning, proper
camping facilities for trekkers and other environmental conservation work, is
considered one of its kind for the promotion and development of ecotourism in
Nepal. The area enjoys an advantage over the rest of the Annapurna region in
that it has fewer trekkers and therefore there is less pressure on the natural and
Nature conservation, which is one of the major components of the project,
includes activities such as forest nursery, afforestation, river training, and
sustainable harvest of forest products from defined zones for local communities.
These activities are carried out through the Conservation and Development
Committee (CDC) and other related sub-committees. The alternative energy
program comprises of micro-hydro projects, kerosene depots, low wattage
cookers and back boilers (fuel wood efficient ovens).
The community development component inclu des trail development and
maintenance, bridge construction and repairs, school education support,
community toilets and drinking water schemes. Local capacity building
programs include eco-path finders (tour-guide) training, hotel management
training, vege table production training, leadership training and exposure tours.
Conservation education and extension programs involve clean ups and mobile
camps, and formal and informal conservation education. The project also works
for heritage conservation, which includes conservation of cultural sites and
management of traditional shows.
The research and monitoring component includes listing of biodiversity (bird
diversity), sustainable utilization of non-timber forest products, socio -economic
survey and bio-diversity conservation research. Publicity and promotion
programs carry out activities like sale of t–shirts and brochures and video films,
and necessary communication with the markets.
Revenue is generated through an entry fee, and community managed facilities
and services. Because of its contribution to local community development and
tourism resources, this project area is also popular among tourists.
Upper Mustang Biodiversity Conservation Project (UMBCP):
The Upper Mustang Biodiversity Conservation Project (UMBCP) was
established in 2000. It covers a total area of 2,567 sq. km in seven village
development committees (VDCs) with a population of 5,694. The project is
expected to go on until 2005. This project aims to link biodiversity and cultural
heritage conservation with tourism management. The basic aims of the project:
institutional capacity building, biodiversity database establishment for
community based planning, management and monitoring, and demonstration of
replicable income generating schemes based on tourism, agriculture and
livestock husbandry. ACAP, which is mandated by the government to support
and manage natural and cultural heritages in Upper Mustang, has been actively
involved in the region.
Lo-Monthang, the ancient walled city and the the n capital of Mustang, can be
reached after a 10 day trek from the nearest road head or 4 days from the nearest
airport. Due to geographical, climatic and political factors, the Upper part of
Mustang was off limits to tourists until 1992. Because it shares its northern
border with the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China,
Mustang was thought to be important from a strategic viewpoint.
In early 1992, HMG opened Mustang for trekking with a fee of US$ 700. It is a
very different destination within Nepal. Therefore, only 1,000 tourists are
allowed to visit Mustang annually (Gurung, 1996). The tourists are required to
visit Mustang using an authorized trekking agency and accompanied by an
environmental officer. Visitors are required to carry back their garbage and are
restricted from going beyond the authorized trekking routes. The entrance fee
has been used in various local development activities. The ACAP mandated by
the government to support and manage natural and cultural heritages in Upper
Mustang has been actively involved in the region. Institutional capacity
building, biodiversity database establishment for community based planning,
management and monitoring, and demonstration of replicable income
generating schemes based on tourism, agriculture and livestock husbandry are
the basic aims of the project.
Tourist flows into the area were officially recorded starting 1993. Since then
there has been a steady growth in visitor numbers, with records showing a high
in 2000 and a slight dec line thereafter (MoCTCA, 2002). The potential impact
of tourism in the upper Mustang area is identified as follows (Ali, 1999);
Weakening of indigenous cultural and religious organizations and the authority
of local institutions that has increasingly weakened the strong link between
nature and culture.
Dearth of information on rangeland ecological processes that has hampered
effective biodiversity conservation efforts and management of rangeland
resources for livestock and wildlife alike.
Lack of a comprehensive and progressive biodiversity conservation strategy and
conservation-oriented management plan that is linked to ongoing
socioeconomic developmental processes in Upper Mustang.
The project was designed to improve the conservation and management
activities in Upper Mustang in order to preserve an extraordinary example of the
high altitude biodiversity of the Himalayas.
The project is in line with GEF requirements that call for the removal of threats
to biodiversity within the project area, to achieve its long-term goal that is to
conserve biodiversity of actual and potential value and preserve globally
important habitats and species of Upper Mustang.
The funds available for the Project will be used entirely for cultural heritage
conservation, arresting the deterioration of cultural monuments, enhancing their
role in serving as additional tourist attractions and maintaining the traditional
cultural link to nature conservation.
The major achievement accomplished by the project in 2001 was the training to
community members in plantation skills, wildlife management, surveying
techniques and biodiversity database management. In addition, with the help of
the American Himalayan Foundation, a large number of villagers were trained
in monument restoration, which included cleaning wall frescoes.
In addition, altogether 11 Savings and Credit groups were formed and
guidelines for managing the Savings and Credit co-operative and Community
Trust Fund were drafted. A total of 8 surveys and 2 studies were completed,
which were related to survey on fauna (focus on mammals), medicinal plants,
gender roles, rangeland management and people-wildlife conflict, demand for
fuelwood, livestock and wildlife interactions, and tourism and rangeland
resource inventory. In the course of biodiversity survey, two new species of
mammals—the Tibetan wild ass and Tibetan gazelle—were recorded in
Mustang for the first time from Nepal (Ali, 1999).
The results of project evaluation carried out in 2001 revealed that the project
was well in line towards achieving the expected outcomes by improving
capacity of selected institutions for management of energy and natural resources
that respond to the needs of poor women and men. Though the achievements of
the project appear modest now it exhibits genuine potential for delivering
outcomes of lasting significance and to achieve recognition, nationally and
regionally (KMTNC, 2002).
Manaslu Conservation Area Project:
The region was opened for organized group trekkers since 1991. The major
trekking seasons are March through May and September through November.
The trek starts from Gorkha and follows the meandering Budhi Gandaki River
and the Darundi River before reaching Larke Pass (5,106 masl) and finally
reaches Manang district. The altitude rises from 600 masl to the summit of
Manaslu (8,163 masl), the eighth highest peak in the world.
A major threat to the biodiversity of the region is the high level of dependency
of local people on natural resources. The opening up of the region to tourism
has only added to the pressure on local ecosystems.
Fig 4.4: Tourist influx in MCAP
Number of Tourists
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Unlike the Annapurna Conservation Area, the difficult terrain and limited
access are major impediments in attracting more trekkers to the region. Yet, the
data in Fig 4.4 suggests, despite minor fluctuations, a steady increase in tourist
influx in the MCAP. Due to limited tourism revenue, the Manaslu region will
require external assistance for some years to come. Various programs are being
implemented to minimize the negative impacts, uplift the quality of life for local
inhabitants and provide quality experience for visitors. Eco-tourism is one such
program and is expected to grow.
The role of the Trust is to facilitate and assist local people to better understand
and realize their own skills for management of their resources in a sustainable
and equitable manner while maintaining their culture and improving on their
traditional systems. As women are one of the most effective partners of the
Trust in all its conservation and development activities, special focused
programs are being launched to address their specific needs so that the efforts
are consolidated and benefits are more widespread. The active participation and
involvement of local people in identifying local needs and planning and
execution is the best way to guarantee long-term sustainability of the project.
Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Project:
The diverse ecosystems in the KCA host a tremendous array of floral and faunal
diversity. With increasing elevation, tropical hardwoods in the lowlands are
replaced by oak and pine that subsequently give way to larch, fir and juniper up
to the tree line. Spring in Kangchenjunga region brings floral blooms of
rhododendron, orchids and lilies.
The KCA harbors a rich diversity of wildlife that includes the endangered snow
leopard, Himalayan black bear, musk deer and red panda. Blue sheep and rhesus
macaque abound in the area. Birds of interest include the Impheyan pheasant,
red-billed blue magpie, ashy drongo and many more.
Fig 4.5: Tourist influx in KCA
Number of Tourists 1000
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
The Kangchenjunga Area experienced tourism in 1988 for the first time, with 87
visitors. The number jumped to 590 the following year. Although fewer than a
thousand trekkers visit the area every year (except for year 2000), the tourist
flow in the KCA has increased steadily (Fig 4.5).
Major impact of tourism in the KCA area is the solid waste generated by
trekking and expedition groups. For the first time in the trekking history of the
Kanchanjunga region, 3,000 kg of rubbish was collected in 1998 from the base
camps of Kanchanjunga and Kumbhakarna and camping sites at Rhonak and
Khambachen. The waste was then properly disposed off. Local Mother Groups
as well as village residents are also actively involved in periodic village clean-
Efforts made by various Institutions: Sagarmatha Pollution Control
His Majesty's Government has provided policy support and financial assistance
for environment protection activities in the Sagarmatha region. Various projects
and NGOs such as Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee and Nepal
Mountaineering Association (NMA) have been working actively to preserve and
rejuvenate the natural and cultural heritage of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) region.
These efforts are closely related to enhancing visitor satisfaction while
maintaining environmental integrity.
Founded in 1991 with financial and technical support from the WWF-Nepal
program, Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) is a locally formed
NGO based in the Solukhumbu region established with the noble purpose of
preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) region.
SPCC operates under the partnership of Tengboche Monastery, and has gained
national and international recognition for its contribution to clean-up programs.
Though the initial goal of SPCC was to remove garbage from the Khumbu
region and maintain a clean environment, it has since expanded its activities to
include tourism development, community development, and cultural and
environmental conservation. The following are some of the conservation and
tourism related activities that SPCC has successfully implemented in the
Khumbu region over the last three years (SPCC, 1997/98):
• Clean-up campaigns to mountain base camps, including Everest, Island
and Lobuche peaks.
• Monitoring the waste removal of all mountaineering expedition teams.
• Regular cleaning along trekking trails, villages and campsites.
• Construction and maintenance of garbage pits and public toilets in
different areas of the Khumbu region.
• Trail improvement and bridge construction and maintenance.
• Installation of incinerators in Namche, Tengboche and Lukla for
incineration of trash.
• Establishment of Rescue Post and HF radio services.
• Establishment of kerosene depots at Shyangboche, Pheriche and Dole to
minimize fuelwood consumption by lodges, trekkers and expedition
• Launching of environmental education programs and training at local
schools and formation of eco-clubs.
• Creation of a Lodge Association for better management of the lodges.
• Establishment of Visitors Information Center (VIC) in Lukla and
• Slide show and talk programs for trekkers, tourism entrepreneurs and
local people to raise environmental and cultural awareness.
Recognizing SPCC’s practical approach to conservation through local people’s
participation, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA)
has funded SPCC since 1993. SPCC has also been successful in receiving
assistance from various INGOs. The Association Environment Insertion
Economic (EIEP) of France donated 3 portable incinerators. Similarly, the
Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan (HAT -J) has established an incinerator at
Lukla and has provided funds for operation. HAT -J has also funded the
establishment and operation of an apple farm at Choplung of Chaurikharka
VDC. Apart from these sources, SPCC raises funds internally from the sale of
eco-friendly products and kerosene. Given the magnitude of the problem, the
available resources have not been sufficient to carry out all the necessary
activities (SPCC, 1998 /99).
Eco -tourism and other Forms of Tourism:
Mass tourism remained dominant in the world tourism market for a long time.
But with change in times, tourism too has taken various forms, some of which
are described hereunder.
Alternative tourism can be defined as ‘forms of tourism that set out to be
consistent with natural, social and community values and which allow both hosts
and guests to enjoy positive and worthwhile interaction and shared experiences’.
Therefore, ecotourism can be assumed to be one form of the alternative tourism
(Zurick, 1992 cited in Sheedy, 1995; Wearing and Neil, 1999).
Butler (1990 cited in Kunwar, 1997) identified several characteristics of
alternative tourism. He observed it to be of small scale and developed and owned
by local people. It involves traveling to relatively remote, undisturbed natural
areas with the objective of admiring, studying and enjoying the scenery and its
wild plants and animals and cultural attributes. It also considers the conservation
of the environment and sustenance and well-being of local people. Further clients
are expected to be individuals. Accommodations are locally owned and small
Features of Alternative Tourism:
The attempted preservation, protection and enhancement of the quality of the
resource base which is fundamental to tourism itself.
The fostering and active promotion of development, in relation to additional
visitor attractions and infrastructure, with roots in the specific locale and
developed in ways that complement local attributes.
The endorsement of infrastructure, hence economic growth, when and where it
improves local conditions and not where it is destructive or exceeds the carrying
capacity of the natural environment or the limits of the social environment
whereby the quality of community life is adversely affected.
Tourism, which attempts to minimize its impact upon the environmen t, is
ecologically sound, and avoids the negative impacts of many large-scale tourism
developments undertaken in areas that have not previously been developed.
An emphasis on not only ecological sustainability, but also cultural
sustainability. That is, tourism which does not damage the culture of the host
community, encouraging a respect for the cultural realities experienced by the
tourists through education and organized 'encounters'.
Kunwar (1997) observes that alternative tourists try to avoid the beaten track and
visit places where nobody has been before. Such a tourist seeks to forget
civilization for a while and enjoys contact with the local people. S/he may enjoy
even without modern tourist infrastructure and travel alone or in small groups. An
alternative tourist is anticipated to be well educated and possess above average
income and tend to remain in the country for more days than a traditional tourist.
Although tourism has the potential to become an agent of development and
change, due to the way it requires resources, it should not be considered as an
environmentally harmless industry as such. Therefore, only with careful
planning it has the potential to operate and contribute in a sustainable manner
(Butler cited in Woodley, 1993).
According to the WTO "sustainable tourism development meets the needs of
present generation tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing
opportunities for the future.” It is envisaged as leading to management of all
resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs are fulfilled
while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological
diversity, and life support systems (WTO, 2002). The WTO paper further explains
the need for achieving several objectives for ensuring sustainable tourism.
The natural, historical, cultural and other resources for tourism are conserved for
continuous use in the future, while still bringing benefits to the present society.
Tourism development is planned and managed so that it does not generate serious
environmental or socio-cultural problems in the tourism area.
The overall environmental quality of tourism areas is maintained and improved
A high level of tourist satisfaction is maintained so that tourist destinations retain
their marketability and popularity.
The benefits of tourism are widely spread throughout society.
The guiding principle for sustainable development emphasizes the management of
natural and human resources for maximization of visitor enjoyment and local
benefit and at the same time minimizing the negative impacts upon the destination
site, community and local population (Kunwar, 1997).
Community based Tourism: Community Development:
Eco-tourism can be a significant, even essential, part of the local economy. It
has immense potential to help in poverty alleviation. Besides its unique
potential to carry exchange and investment directly to the local level, it can
make significant contribution to rural development, agricultural transformation,
community enrichment and social empowerment, particularly for women
(Shrestha and Walinga, 2003)
More recently, community based tourism has been recognized as another form of
tourism. "The community based tourism occurs when decisions about tourism
activity and development are driven by the host community. It usually involves
some form of cultural exchange where tourists meet with local communities and
witness aspects of their lifestyle. Many such remote ethnic communities may be
vulnerable to outside influences and decisions about the way tourists are hosted
must be owned by the community for successful and sustainable tourism" (SNV,
Community based tourism can generate a sense of pride in the local population
and make funds available for maintaining or upgrading cultural assets (e.g.
archeological ruins, historic sites, traditional crafts production (World Bank, 2000
cited in UNEP, 2001).
The aims of community based eco-tourism largely depend on the issues, problems
and needs of the community. In general it serves as a tool for conservation and, at
the same time, a tool for improving the quality of life. It also serves as a tool to
bring the community together to consult, discuss and work together in solving
community problems. Further such tourism provides opportunity for exchange of
knowledge and culture between tourists and the community and helps to provide
supplementary income for individual members of the community and for
community development (REST, 2002).
It refers to the type of tourism where tourism organizations take care of tourist
destinations while providing visitor satisfaction. As a result, the resources and
attractions—both natural and cultural—are not spoiled for local people or future
visitors. Further, it denotes care for the environment and cultural resources, an
opportunity for locals in terms of employment or other kinds of involvement,
sufficient information regarding local resources for visitors, and implementation
of the policy of Corporate Social Responsibility (Gyawali et al., 2003).
Pro -Poor Tourism:
Pro-poor tourism is another form of tourism where the benefits to the poor are
greater than the costs that tourism entails to them. This approach emphasizes the
need to extend tourism opportunities for people living on less than US$ 1 per day.
This category of people should be involved in tourism for realizing poverty
reduction through tourism. By definition, it is obvious that not all community
based tourism is pro-poor tourism (Goodwin, 2000). Pro-poor tourism strategies
emphasize on unlocking opportunities for the poor within tourism, rather than
expanding the overall size of the tourism business (WTO, 2002).
Village tourism denotes tourists visiting villages and staying in or near the
villages. Successful cases have shown that there should be special features of the
particular village to attract visitors. This is also associated with the tourist
behavior in that they stay in a village and explore the surroundings (McIntyre,
1993). The special feature of this kind of tourism is that the visitors become part
of the local village for the period of their stay. Such visitors normally do not
expect the kind of accommodation and food that they are accustomed to. In other
words, they rely on locally available accommodation and food.
Since village tourists depend on locally available accommodation, with minor
modifications in some cases, accommodation does not require large investments.
A house in the village serves as an accommodation for the visitor. Therefore,
villages could serve visitors even with minimum entrepreneurial skills. Visitors
are served local food and cultural programs are organized for entertainment. Such
an opportunity allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local socio -cultural
environment. It also allows them an opportunity to get to know local social,
cultural and religious practices. Since it is these special features of any typical
destination that attract tourists, hosts soon understand the need for preservation of
the local tourism resources, including their culture and religion.
Sirubari Village - pioneer of Village Tourism:
The Sirubari culture of welcoming visitors is very different from others. If
informed in advance, the hosts welcome visitors at the entrance to the village with
traditional musical instruments, the panchai bajaa. Visitors are then guided to a
main house where plans are made for each individual's stay. Then each visitor is
taken to his/her place of stay. Visitors do not have the privilege of making the
choice; it is the hosts who decide.
The houses are all traditional Nepalese homes constructed for the residents
themselves. Except for some internal adjustments and toilets, no new construction
has been undertaken for tourism purposes alone. The houses are kept clean.
Unlike other villages, no traces of dirt can be seen in the streets. The streets are
paved with stone that helps keep the walkways safe. This has also added to the
beauty of the settlement. Although each house has its own ever-running water tap,
there are no problems of sanitation. Overall, the village is well managed in terms
of sanitation and drinking water.
In the morning, the host prepares breakfast, which is mostly made up of local food
products. It is served in the dinning room, which is next to the kitchen. Lunch is
served at around 12 noon, and dinner in the evening. Special attention is paid to
preparing healthy food in tidy surroundings. The host serves the meals
During the day, tourists have the opportunity to see the local tourist attractions,
which include sunrise watch and mountain views from atop the hills. In the
evenings cultural programs are arranged.
Visitors normally stay for two nights. At the time of their departure, visitors are
offered garlands and presented a farewell dance with typical Nepali songs. Finally,
hosts see visitors off at the point where they were received.
Village tourism in Sirubari has strong linkages with conservation. In the
beginning, Sirubari was visited mainly by Nepalese who came to see the
community forest. Slowly, with the hard work of villagers, these visits were
converted into village tourism. In this sense, village tourism is closely linked with
The following observations are based on case studies in Ecuador, Namibia, Nepal,
South Africa, St Lucia and Uganda carried out by the Pro -Poor Tourism team on
how tourism can be made pro-poor (WTO, 2002).
Though poor involved in tourism still remain poor, they are better off than before.
They are less vulnerable to hunger.
Due to access to regular employment, the tourism income helps uplift some
households from 'poor' to fairly 'secure' livelihoods.
Tourism benefits are spread widely among the poor households yet such
distribution remains highly uneven.
In exceptional cases communities can actually be said to have 'escaped' poverty.
Therefore, these examples suggest that tourism must be judged on the basis of
opportunities provided for pro-poor growth or the diversity of opportunities t
provides for the poor (Goodwin, 1995).
As for Nepal, a Pro -Poor Tourism Policy is being prepared by MoCTCA/ TRPAP.
The Policy document is anticipated to support the planning and implementation of
pro-poor tourism activities in Nepal (TRPAP, 2004).
Evidence from Sirubari shows that this form of tourism has high potential for
bringing resources to the villages which eventually becomes an important tool
for poverty alleviation. However, since cultures are subject to influence by
visitors there is the possibility that village tourism destinations are affected by
the influx of visitors. Therefore, special care is needed to minimize the social
and cultural impacts of tourism.
The earliest accounts of cultural tourism can be traced back to ancient history.
One such visitor was Huen Tsang from China who visited Nepal and India in the
5th Century AD. One of the important things he did during his visit was to describe
the cultural sites in Kathmandu Valley. However, cultural tourism as we know it
today was conceptualized by UNESCO during the Seventies. Cultural tourism is
regarded as a “force for cultural preservation”. It is also defined as “the absorption
by tourists of features resembling the vanishing lifestyles of past societies
observed through such phenomena as house styles, crafts, farming equipment,
dress, utensils and other instruments and equipment that reflects the lifestyle of
any particular community during a particular time” (Smith cited in Kunwar,
1997). Further, Zins (cited in Kunwar, 1997) identified handicrafts, language,
traditions, art and music, paintings and sculpture, history, work and technology,
architecture, religion, educational system, dress and leisure activities as elements
of cultural tourism.
As cultural tourism also involves education for visitors and promotes sensitivity
towards cultural environment, provides direct benefits to host communities and
helps in preservation of culture, it is also closely linked with ecotourism.
The resources that comprise cultural tourism (Kunwar, 1997) are categorized
1.Cultural Settlement pattern, lifestyle, dress
landscape and and jewellery, folk songs and
distinctive cultural dances, local cuisines.
Art and architecture, sculptures and
paintings, folk dance/ music and
2.Local art/ craft
musical instruments, and local
Fairs - religious, specific local fairs,
3.Fairs/ Festivals commercial/trade, popular festivals,
and mode of their celebration.
Monuments heritage-forts, places,
temples and mosques of historical
4.Historic/ and artistic value, ancient ruins,
Archaeological museums, excavation sites and other
heritage places of archaeological importance
and sites of important historical
Although cultural tourism is different from other forms of tourism, it often
becomes an integral part of the total visit. For instance, one of the main interests
for tourists to Kathmandu is to see the temples and historical monuments in
Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, visitors to Ghandruk in the Annapurna
Conservation Area are unlikely to miss the local cultural museum.
Development Concept for Eco-tourism in Nepal:
• The Eco-tourism Development Concept assumes growth in Eco -tourism
based on the following three broad strategies:
• Developing new trekking areas in the Himalaya, using improved air
access as the key, giving priority to the west but also focusing on
extending opportunities in the east.
• Developing opportunities associated with the Kathmandu – Pokhara –
Tansen – Lumbini – Chitwan – Kathmandu eco-tourism circuit.
• Placing emphasis on expanding the existing spectrum of eco -tourism
products and services, aiming for a wide range of high quality products
from village tourism to world class wildlife and premier adventure
Strategic Directions for Eco -tourism in Nepal:
• Nepal’s successful track record in eco -tourism development will be
converted into a comparative advantage by recognizing and developing
Nepal’s unique pool of talented people in this field, and by promoting
Nepal’s sophistication in this area to eco-tourism markets.
• Partnership and alliances are vital in eco-tourism. They will be
encouraged at all levels and strategic use will be made of them for advice
and assistance in policy making and implementation.
• The Department of Na tional Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC)
and other protected area managers such as KMTNC will become key
stakeholders in eco -tourism development planning.
• Experienced and responsible private sector organizations will be invited
to participate in the planning, implementation and marketing of eco-
tourism development projects.
• New eco-tourism areas has to be developed, where there is a balance of
poverty alleviation needs.
• A multi-sectoral review of trekking and mountaineering regulations
governing tourist travel to eco-tourism development areas has to be
conducted in which key issues of law related to eco -tourism has to be
brought to a head in official forums.
• An eco-tourism marketing programme has to be developed and
implemented aimed at positioning Nepal as the ultimate Asian Adventure
Role of Government in Promoting Eco-tourism
Eco-tourism is an important inter-sectoral activity. Responsibilities have to be
shared. It is important to create committees and councils locally, comprising of
locals, tour operators, government officials, NGOs and academics from
universities. This will give a multi – pronged, holistic approach to the concept,
which will result in all-round development of the area. In this context, it is
important also to institute courses to train people, who’re involved directly with
the tourists like tour operators. This is already being successfully implemented
in many countries, where there is great interest in wildlife safaris.
National eco-tourism and strategic policies have been formulated for countries
like Mexico, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Malaysia and Yemen. It
is very important to work in conjunction with local people. It is good idea for
every government to have a national eco-tourism and strategic policy. The
policy should be reviewed every five years after analyzing feedback from
monitoring agencies and other people directly involved.
Policy Measures to promote Eco-tourism:
The Ninth Plan Policy and implementation strategies include promotion of eco-
tourism. The strategies include programs such as development of model tourist
villages and new trekking areas. The Tenth Plan focuses on review of tourism
policies, related regulations, institutional arrangements and performance, and
assessments of net contribution to the economy from tourism. It will also focus
on developing tourism infrastructure in remote areas that will ultimately help to
develop domestic tourism in Nepal (Awasthi et. al., 2001). Nepal has developed
strategies to facilitate the development of ecotourism as well.
Realizing that there is increasing stress on the natural environment, HMG has
introduced a legislation that requires tourism service providers to submitted
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.
Incentives and Suppo rt:
His Majesty’s Government has played a supportive role not only at the policy
level but also in implementation. For instance, it provides grant assistance for
environmental protection activities through the Nepal Tourism Board.
Private institutions such as the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal regularly
conduct a training course on ecotourism. Their policy is to protect and keep the
environment clean. Periodically, they conduct refresher courses for their staff.
Apart from these, NGOs involved in tourism promotion have shown
commitment to conserve the environment.
Various institutional arrangements are in place for the development of the
tourism sector in Nepal. A high level Tourism Council has been formed to
develop the industry as a backbone of national development and to maintain
coordination and cooperation among various agencies related with the tourism
sector. The Council is headed by the Prime Minister. The Council is expected to
remove the obstacles faced by the sector, give policy level guidelines to
subordinate executive agencies (Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil
Aviation, the Nepal Tourism Board and other line ministries/ agencies.), and
reviews plans or policies related to tourism (Thapa, 2004, online:
The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), on the basis of the
policy and guidelines of the Tourism Council, designs policy for the
development of tourism, and makes necessary plans and oversees their
implementation through the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
The NTB is responsible for all marketing activities aimed at promoting Nepal as
a premier destination. Although the initial phase of the functioning of the Board
will focus on marketing and promotion, the ultimate aim of the NTB is to take
over regulatory and product development activities as well. It is working
towards repositioning the image of Nepal so as to market and promote Nepal
aggressively and extensively both domestically and internationally. The basic
roles of NTB are listed below.
Role of Nepal Tourism Board:
• To develop Nepal as an attractive tourist destination in the international
• To develop, expand and promote tourism enterprises, while promoting
the natural, cultural and human environment of the country.
• To increase national income, to increase foreign currency earnings, and to
create maximum opportunities of employment by developing, expanding
and promoting tourism.
• To establish the image of Nepal in the international tourism community
by developing Nepal as a secure, reliable and attractive destination.
• To undertake or foster research related to reforms to be made in tourism
enterprises in order to provide quality services.
• To help establish and develop institutions necessary for the development
of tourism enterprises.
• To develop Nepal as a tourism hub for South Asia.
Source: Thapa, 2004, online: www.adobe.com
The Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) is responsible
for policy, licensing and regulation of tourism industry in Nepal. The Nepal
Tourism Board (NTB) undertakes planning and product development,
international and domestic promotion, and tourism research. Other key
government agencies are the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the
Department of National Parks and W ildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
The National Planning Commission (NPC) has a strong influence on tourism
policy. Tourism is included as a major sector in NPC’s five-year plans. Tourism
is viewed by NPC as a poverty reduction strategy in its interim Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
Protected areas, many of which have tourism activities, fall under the
jurisdiction of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation
(DNPWC). The income from tourism concessions and entry fees contribute
significantly to the DNPWC budget. A percentage of tourism income is pledged
for the benefit of local communities in the buffer zones.
The Ministry of Local Development (MoLD) is responsible for decentralizing
government services to the district and village level. Like in any development
activities, the District Development Committees (DDCs) and Village
Development Committees (VDCs) play key roles in promoting tourism in
destination areas under their jurisdiction.
Nepal’s active and fairly large private sector has organized into some 20
different associations. The leading ones include the Trekking Agents
Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA),
Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), Nepal Association of Travel Agents
(NATA), Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA) and Tourist Guide
Association of Nepal (TURGAN).
Of the hundreds of national and international NGOs active in Nepal, many have
identified eco-tourism as a means to achieve their goals of poverty reduction,
community development, environmental preservation and conservation. Many
of the leading players have international reputations in this field. The King
Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) is best known for its
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which pioneered techniques of
integrated conservation and development using eco-tourism as a development
tool. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been active in Nepal since
the 1960s and has helped establish Nepal’s protected area system in partnership
with DNPWC. A major sponsor of KMTNC in the past, WWF has recently
assisted DNPWC with producing detailed tourism plans for six National Parks
and Conservation Areas.
Netherlands Development Organization (SNV Nepal) has recently established a
track record in using eco-tourism as a tool for poverty alleviation. Working with
DDC, VDC, local NGO and community levels, SNV has concentrated on ten
districts in west and east Nepal.
The Mountain Institute (TMI) is an INGO registered in the United States that
has been working on integrated conservation and development programs in
Makalu-Barun. Active in Nepal since 1983, a recognized strength of TMI is
planning and implementing community based eco-tourism programs.
Another indication of Nepal’s sophistication in eco -tourism is the Sustainable
Tourism Network (STN). It was founded in 1997 to co -ordinate the activities
and programs of agencies active in eco-tourism. STN is serviced by the NTB
and has performed its way to being the key co -coordinating body for eco-
tourism planning and implementation.
Potential Eco -tourism Sites in Nepal:
The major tourist destinations for sightseeing in Nepal at present are the
Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys. Owing to their rich cultural heritage and
natural beauty, these two valleys are obvious choices. Chitwan has emerged as
another major tourist destination because of its wildlife. Lumbini by virtue of
being the birthplace of Lord Buddha also attracts a sizeable number of tourists
every year. As for trekking destinations, the major areas frequented by tourists
are Annapurna, Manang, Jomsom, Everest (Sagarmatha region) and Langtang.
A better distribution of tourists across the country is much desired, especially
for reducing the concentration and associated impacts in these locations a nd
spreading tourism earnings. In this way tourism can remain more or less small-
scale and can therefore still meet one of the preferred criteria of eco -tourism.
Apart from the well-established tourist destinations mentioned in this study,
there are other important locations in the country with potential. Based on
secondary literature, which include NTB publications, the ADB Eco -tourism
Project Report and other relevant publications, the following sites are
recognized as potential eco-tourism destinations.
Antu Danda and Adjoining Areas:
Antu Danda and adjoining areas, renowned for the splendor of their lush green
hillocks, spectacular landscape of tea gardens, and cultural and historical
uniqueness, hold great eco-tourism potential. The area is in Ilam district, which
occupies an area of 1,703 square kilometers with total population of 282,806.
The area has great climatic and geographical variation, some of its hill stations
tower up to around 4,000 meters, which if developed well, could offer tourists
the option of skiing in snow clad mountains. These spots also offer breathtaking
glimpses of Mt. Everest, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, spectacular sunrises and
sunsets, and endangered species like red panda. However, careful planning is
needed to develop this area as an attractive and competitive eco -tourism
destination while also safeguarding against any negative environmental, cultural
and economic impacts. The important sites of the area are Antu Danda,
Maipokhari, Sandakpur, Kanyam and Fikkal Bazaar, Sidhi Thumka, Gajur
Mukhi and Pathibhara.
Antu Danda lies close to the Indian border. It is an unspoiled site that beguiles
tourists coming to Ilam Bazaar of Nepal and Darjeeling of India. Antu Danda is
in Ilam district, some 35 kilometers from the district headquarters of Ilam. It is
nestled in a calm and cool environment, enclosed by the Mechi River, Kanyam
Tea State, Fikkal Bazaar and Pashupatinagar.
The major attractions of Antu Danda are its natural, cultural, religious and
historical dimensions. The landscape and biodiversity includes pine forests,
terraces, slopes, flat lands enriched with varying vegetations, cash crops lakes
and ponds, sub-tropical NTFPs and wildlife including some of the world's
endangered species. Antu Danda is famous for its views of the Himalayas to the
north and the flat lands of the Terai to the south. Tourists can enjoy sunrise and
sunset on the mountaintop, especially during the month of Kartik and Mangsir
(October-December). However, Aswin (September) and Falgun to Baisakh
(February-April) are also good times to visit the area (NTB, 2001). Tiger Hill of
Ilam is another attraction for tourists. It has a long cave with a carved image of
Mountain biking, pony riding, camping sites, angling, boating, rock climbing
village tour, comfortable lodging facility, bird watching, skiing and paragliding
are possible tourism products that can be developed in the area. In terms of
existing facilities Antu Danda has electricity, communication facility, camping
grounds, simple tea stalls, simple accommodations, seasonal bus service,
earthen roads and trails (NTB, 2001).
Maipokhari is another attractive site in Ilam District. From an eco -tourism
perspective, Maipokhari possesses some promising potentialities with its
religious and archeological values, and its natural beauty.
Maipokhari, the famous lake in Ilam, lies at an elevation of 2,150 meters. It is
located about 11 kilometers from Ilam. Of the important sites of the area,
Maipokhari Lake is the major attraction. Its religious value and popularity make
it a potential site for eco-tourism development.
Maipokhari is an important watershed area in the region covering around 450
hectares of land, mostly dense forest. Its 2.5 hectares of land exclusiv e of the
pond area has been conserved as natural forest with a proper fence. The forest
harbors various valuable species of plants, like ground orchid, white
rhododendron and precious NTFPs. The other attraction is the wildlife. The
forest of the area has some of the rare animals like musk deer, leopard,
porcupine, jackal, rare birds like Khalij, Tibetan duck and some rare insects,
which are on the verge of extinction (NTB, 2001).
Maipokhari has great religious and cultural importance. According to legend
Maipokhari is the rendezvous of Shiva and Parvati who visit the place once a
year during Kartik Ekadashi. Therefore, people from surrounding villages and
distant places come to take a holy dip in the pond. A great fair (mela) takes
place once a year on the day of Thuloekadeshi. In terms of existing tourism
facilities Maipokhari has electricity, communication, camping grounds, standard
and simple tea stalls, seasonal bus service with earthen road, and
manmade/natural/cultural/religious attractions. The products that can be added
to the area’s tourism products and services by entrepreneurs are regular bus
service, bird watching, village tour, boating facility, museums, angling facility,
camping site, local guide service, souvenir shop, standard tea stalls, pony riding
and mountain biking (NTB, 2001).
Sandakpur is one of the highly promising locations from a tourism development
viewpoint but it has not gained popularity as a tourist destination. It is also
situated in Ilam. It lies at an elevation of 3636 meters above sea level (NTB
2001), so the area is often snow capped. Its height and its slope provide
opportunities for skiing. Sandakpur also offers views of Mt. Everest, Mt.
Kangchenjunga, Mt. Makalu and some of the world's highest mountains. Rather
than cultural and historical aspect, its natural aspect seems highly promising for
eco-tourism development in the area. The area also has high altitude flora and
fauna, including endangered species like red panda. Due to its height, sunrise
and sunset are the most interesting time to spare in the area.
The existing tourism facilities at Sandakpur are its exceptional environment and
nature, earthen roads and trails. The area has enough camping grounds. Bus
services are irregular so tourists can use private vehicles that take them to
Khorsanitar (Maimajuwa), about 21 km from Ilam Bazaar. From there
Sandakpur is a six hour trek. The products and services that can be added to the
area by entrepreneurs are mountain biking, pony riding, souvenir shops, local
guide service, cable car, skiing and paragliding (NTB, 2001).
Kanyam and Fikkal Bazaar
Kanyam and Fikkal Bazaar lie in Ilam district of Eastern Development Region.
Ilam has a 140-year history of tea farming. Of the tea plantations that are
thriving in the area, Kanyam Tea State is the largest. It is located in Kanyam
VDC of Ilam. Spreading flat in the Mahabharat Range, the tea garden and its
appealing greenery is something special for the tourists, photographers and
The existing products at the Kanyam and Fikkal Bazaar are natural attraction,
man made architecture and art. The area is accessible by a blacktopped road
linking to Ilam, Fikkal Bazaar and Kanyam. The existing facilities at Kanyam
and Fikkal Bazaar are communication, electricity, travel services, souvenir
shops, camping grounds, standard and simple tea stalls, simple lodging
facilities, regular bus service, black topped road and manmade, natural, cultural
and religious attractions. The products that can be added in the Kanyam and
Fikkal Bazaar area are travel, tour and cargo services, golfing, village tour,
museums, camping sites, local guide services, souvenir shop, standard tea shop,
pony ridding and mountain biking.
Sidhi Thumka is in Ilam district of the Eastern Development Region. It lies at an
elevation of 1800 meters, west of Ilam Bazaar. Sidhi Thumka is ideal for a short
trek and for panoramic views of the mountains and plains wrought in the colors
of sunset and sunrise. It is a 4-hour trek to reach Sidhi Thumka from Ilam
Bazaar. It can also be reached by road from Ilam Bazaar.
The available facilities are earthen road, trails and camping grounds. The
possible tourism products and services that entrepreneurs can add or develop are
standard lodging facility, rock climbing, paragliding, skiing, local guide
services, souvenir shops, hygienic/standard tea stalls and mountain biking
Gajur Mukhi is another tourist destination in Ilam district. The major attraction
here is a cave with carved images of gods and goddesses. The cave is about 20
feet long and 10 feet high (Bhandari, 1997). On the full moon day of Kartik,
special worship is performed. The place can be reached by road up to Ghuseni
from Ilam Bazaar via Gagre Bhanjyang. A seasonal bus service operates along
this road. Gajur Mukhi lies on the banks of Deunmai Khola, west of Ilam
Bazaar. Its importance is mostly from a religious perspective. The site is a four-
hour trek from Ilam Bazaar and enhancing the trekking route from Ilam Bazaar
to Gajur Mukhi could add to the attraction of the area.
Recently some tourism facilities have been developed in the area, including
seasonal bus service, trails for trekking and comfortable accommodation.
Cultural/religious attractions, standard tea stalls, local guide services and regular
bus services are potential tourism products of the area (NTB, 2001).
Pathibhara lies in Terhathum district of the Eastern Development Region. It is
an important site from a religious and cultural viewpoint, with the temple of
Pathibhara Devi being the most important attraction. The temple is sited close to
the Mechi Highway in the southeast of Kolbung VDC. The site of the temple is
known as Hanspokhari.
The existing facilities include beautiful and natural camping grounds,
blacktopped road with regular bus service and beautiful trails.
Basantapur and Adjoining Areas
Basantapur lies in Terhathum district. It is the central attraction of Terhathum
District, which has an area of 679 square kilometers accommodating almost
113,111 people. The area lies at an elevation of 345 to 962 meters (Sharma, et
al, 2000). Despite relatively small area, 21 different languages are spoken by the
inhabitants. The area, therefore, has immense diversity in linguistic, biological
and religious terms. The major sites around Basantpur are Tin Jure Danda,
Milke Danda, Pattek Danda, Gupha Pokhari, Marg Pokhari, Sukrabare Bazaar
and Panchakanya Pokhari.
Tin Jure Danda lies in Taplejung district. The name means "three humped
mountain". The hump-shaped mountain creates a breathtaking scene and offers
excellent views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu and other Himalayan ranges. The
mountain lies at an elevation of 3,031 meters. The green forest that covers
Tinjure Danda has more than 34 varieties of rhododendron plants (NTB, 2001).
It is well worth viewing sunset and sunrise from the summit of the mountain.
The existing facilities at Tin Jure Danda are communication, graveled road with
seasonal bus service, simple tea stalls, and trekking trails. Tourism
entrepreneurs can develop other products like mountain biking, lodgings, local
guide service, camping sites and birds watching in the area (NTB, 2001). A
significant number of visitors travel to this area in the season to view the
rhododendrons in bloom.
Milke Danda has great potential for eco-tourism development because of its
natural beauty. This spot is equally attractive as Tin Jure Danda in terms of
rhododendron forests. Its chief attraction is however the trail that links
Taplejung from Basantapur Bazaar. Milke Danda is located at a height of 2905
meters (NTB, 2001) and offers panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges from
the mountaintop. A road has been planned to link Khandbari to Kimathok, the
closest point in Nepal to the Tibetan border of China. Besides natural products
of the area, there are standard tea stalls, camping grounds, trails and earthen
roads. The tourism products and services that can be added to this list are
comfortable camp ing sites, hygienic tea stalls, pony riding, trekking and
mountain biking (NTB, 2001).
Pattek Danda is situated at a distance of 3 kilometers from Basantapur Bazaar. It
can be reached within 15 minutes through the earthen road. The road leads to
Chiture from where one can enjoy a slow trek of about 15 minutes to the Pattek
Danda, which is located at an elevation of about 2500 meters. It provides
opportunities for watching sunset and sunrise. There is regular bus service for
Pattek Danda from the district headquarters. Apart from them, there are other
facilities such as standard tea stalls, trails, earthen roads and other basic
facilities. The facilities that can be made available and are needed in the area are
communication facilities, more standard tea stalls, pony riding and local guide
service (NTB, 2001).
Dhanusha Dham and Adjoining Areas
Dhanusha Dham is located in Dhanusha district. The district occupies an area of
1,180 square kilometers and accommodates around 6,771,364 populations
(Sharma et al, 2000). The major attractions of this site are situated mainly in the
two VDCs, Dhanusha Govindapur and Dhanusha Dham. Both the VDCs are
about 18 kilometers northeast of the district headquarters Janakpur Dham, and
10 km south of Dharapani on the Mahendra Highway. Dhanusha Dham has
great religious significance. The place is believed to be the birthplace of Sita
(wife of Lord Rama according to Hindu mythology). The famous Ram Janaki
Mandir is located at Janakpur Dham.
This area also holds possibility for developing village tourism, which could
feature varieties of language and culture including the Maithali culture and
language. The major ecotourism sites around Dhanusha Dham area are
Dhanusha forest, Parashurm Kund, Ram Janaki Mandir, Ram Mand ir, Ganesh
Mandir, Shiva Mandir, Ramkrishna Mandir, Bhagawati Mandir, Panchamukhi
Hanuman Mandir, Baba Makhandada Kuti and Dhanusha Sagar.
The Dhanusha Dham area has tropical climate. Therefore, the best season to
visit the area is from Kartik to Falgun (October to February). However, Aswin
(September) and Chaitra (April) is also considered a good time to visit the place
Dhanusha forest, which is also located in Dhanusha district, occupies about 36
square kilometers. The forest is mainly covered with big sal trees, bushes and
ponds. The pond in the middle of the forest could be an added value to the site if
it is properly managed. The site is accessible through a blacktopped road. Some
of the existing tourism products at the area are simple tea stalls, camping
grounds, travel services and electricity. Though this place is not still developed
as an ecotourism site, there are possibilities for adding standard tea stalls,
souvenir shops, camping sites, boating facility and local cultural Programs
Parashuram Kund in Dhanusha District has historical and religions significance.
Those who visit Dhanusha Dham do not miss this beautiful pond. The pond
could be promoted as an ecotourism site. Boating facility and village tours can
be immediately added to the tourism products of the site (NTB, 2001).
4.5.4 Tansen and Adjoining Areas
Tansen is the most attractive place in Palpa district. It is also the headquarters of
the district and is linked with Pokhara and Butwal by the Siddartha Highway.
Palpa as a whole is a potential site for ecotourism development. Its surrounding
areas and spots are equally attractive. Spread in about 1,373 square kilometers
(Sharma et. al., 2000), Palpa has numerous potential ecotourism sites such as
Ranighat, Madan Pokhara, Arghali, Bhairabsthan, Kali Gandaki River, Ridi,
Satyawati Lake, Ramdighat, Deule Archale, Achammeshor, Chilangdi and
Tansen. These areas present opportunities for developing tourism products like
boating, rafting, camping, rock climbing, bird watching, and many more. As in
other potential ecotourism sites of the country, special festivals and ceremonies
are performed and celebrated in the area during Baisakh Sankranti, Baisakh
Purnima, Nag Panchami, Janai Purn ima, Gai Jatra, Krishnasthami, Teej,
Dashain, Tihar, Maghesankranti, Basanta Panchami, Shivaratri, Phagu Purnima,
Chaite Dashain, and Ram Nawami (NTB, 2001).
Ranighat is historically significant and is famous for the palace constructed by
Khadga Shamsher, the governor of Palpa during the Rana regime. The palace
was constructed in memory of his beloved queen Tej Kumari and stands
majestic in an isolated place. The palace can be reached by a 7 km trail from
Tansen to Ranighat. Tourism products an d services in this area include natural,
cultural, religious, historical and manmade items. Though there are trails and
some camping grounds, bird watching, village tour, rock climbing, cultural
programs and local guide service could be other important tourism products for
the area (NTB, 2001).
Madan Pokhara lies in Palpa district. From an eco-tourism perspective Madan
Pokhara is a highly suitable place for promoting village tourism. It is one of
those beautiful villages that reflect well-preserved beauty displayed in its
traditional religions, languages, customs and behavior. It is equally attractive
from an environmental viewpoint. The regular bus service to the area has
strengthened the possibility of developing eco-tourism. Though there are some
tea stalls, camping grounds, communication facilities, electricity and regular bus
service, other products like local cultural programs, local guide service, standard
tea stalls and lodges could help enhance eco-tourism (NTB, 2001).
Kali Gandaki River
The Kali Gandaki is a holy river and also famous for its whitewater rafting.
Notwithstanding these facilities, other tourism products and services should be
developed and added. Lodging facilities, mountain biking, pony riding, local
guide servic es and rafting facilities could add to the attraction of the area.
4.5.5 Khaptad and Adjoining Areas
Khaptad National Park is located in the mid -mountain region of far western
Nepal. The Park was established in 1984 covering an area of 224 square
kilometers (DNPWC, 2000). It is the only mid-mountain national park in
western Nepal, representing a unique and important ecosystem. Its vast
sprawling plateaus with green grasslands surrounded by oak and coniferous
forests offer a challenging yet rewarding expe rience unlike any other protected
area in Nepal. It is in a remote place but that remoteness has helped protect its
pristine beauty. The park is rich in flora and fauna. The flora can be divided into
three basic vegetation zones—subtropical, temperate, and sub alpine (DNPWC,
2000). More than 135 species of flowers and 224 species of medicinal herbs can
be found in the area. There are about 226 bird species, including some
endangered species (DNPWC, 2000).
KNP is also significant from a religious point of view. The late Khaptad Swami
came to the Khaptad jungle in the 1940s to meditate and worship (NTB, 2001).
He attained nirvana after 50 years of meditation in the same place. There is also
a Tribeni, confluence of three rivers, with a temple to Lord Shiva.
The Park has minimal tourism facilities. Currently, there are no lodges or hotels
but the area has trekking facilities, electricity, communication facilities, travel
services, camping grounds, simple tea stalls and trails. Products and services
that can be added to the area by entrepreneurs are comfortable lodging facilities,
pony riding, standard tea stalls, local guide services, camping sites, angling
facility, museums, local cultural programs, rock climbing, village tour, bird
watching, wildlife watching, cable car, skiing, golfing, meditation center, horse
race and polo, rafting, trekking and historical tours. Besides Khaptad National
Park, there are also other attractive places with the potential to be developed as
ecotourism sites. They are Shaileshwori, Ramaroshan, Bhandimalika, Surma
Devi and Surmasarobar, Hermitage of Khaptad Baba, Ganesh temple,
Sahashralinga and Danphe Kot, Upper Tribeni, Naga Dhunga, Khapar Daha and
Shaileshwori temple is in Silgadhi Bazaar, which is a 10 hour bus ride from
Mahendranagar. It is one of the most famous religious centers on the way to
Khaptad. Its high religious significance has the power to draw tourists who visit
Khaptad. Presently, there are simple tea stalls, simple lodging facility, camping
grounds, communication facilities and regular bus service. The products and
services that can be added are village tours, cultural programs, local guide
service, souvenir shops, standard tea stalls, pony riding, mountain biking and
comfortable lodging facility (NTB, 2001).
Ramaroshan is also a culturally important site that finds mention in Hindu
mythology. According to legend, it was called Pancha Pura and it was
surrounded by five cities of Goddess Parvati. It could be an attractive
ecotourism site from a historical and religious view point. Tourism products and
services like rock climbing, local guide service, pony riding and standard tea
stalls can increase the significance and attraction of the site (NTB, 2001).
Surma Devi and Surmasarovar
Like other sites in the Khaptad area, Surma Devi and Surmasarovar are
religiously important places. The temple of Surma Devi is situated at an altitude
of 1400 feet and the Lake Surmasarovar is situated next to the temple. Both are
connected to stories in Hindu mythology. With boating facilities and local guide
services in the area it can be an attractive eco-tourism site.
Chitwan and Adjoining Areas
Chitwan lies in the Central Development Region of Nepal. The area lies at an
elevation of 244-1948 meters. The central attraction of the area is Royal
Chitwan National Park. Though the national park is famous in the international
tourism market, its adjoining areas are still unexplored and unexposed. Some of
the potential eco-tourism sites in Chitwan and its nearby areas are Devghat,
Pandav Nagar, Rapti Manauri, Singh Devisthan, Abuthum Lekh, Beneeghat,
Bishajari Tal, Balmiki Ashram, Bikram Baba, Danda Mandir of Gaidakot
(Nawalparashi District) and Narayani Bridge.
Devghat is situated in Gardi VDC of Chitwan District. The place is mainly in
Siwalik and inner Terai or Madhesh ecozone (Bhandari, 1997). Its aesthetic,
social, religious/cultural and historical significance make it one of the famous
sites where people from all over the nation and India come to celebrate festivals
like Maghesakranti, Janaipurnima, Thulo Ekadashi etc. Since it is situated at the
confluence of three holy rivers, it is revered as a holy place. It lies at the
junction of Nawalparasi, Tahanu and Chitwan districts. The temples of
Chakresware Mahadev, Vishnu and Shiva have been constructed atop a small
hill (Bhandari, 1997). There is also a cave which is known as Sita Gufa where
she is believed to have been swallowed by the earth. Currently, the site has
communication facilities, regular bus service, blacktopped road, simple tea
stalls and simple lodging. The products and services that can be added for
promoting ecotourism are boating facilities, rafting, standard tea stalls, standard
lodgings and local guide service.
Bishajari Taal is also in Chitwan district. Bishajari Taal (literally, twenty
thousand lakes) is one of the important wetlands of Nepal. Like its name
signifies the wetland consists of hundreds of smaller ponds all linked with each
other. It is situated near Bharatpur Municipality and is surrounded by the
Tikauli jungle. It could be an added site for those who visit Royal Chitwan
National Park. As of date, there are minimal tourism facilities in the area but
entrepreneurs can add some products like local guide service, and simple and
standard tea stalls.
Bikram Baba, located in Chitwan district, is a holy place for Hindus. Each year,
on the first day of the Nepali year (i.e. Bikram Sambat) a large number of
people from all over Nepal and even from India visit this site to worship Bikram
Baba. However, there is no temple in the holy place. Instead, there is an old
tree, which is worshiped by people. The site lies just beside the Rapti River near
Sauraha. Though the place is not always crowded, there is the need for
managing the crowds of tourists on special days, for instance New Year's Day.
In addition to the locations mentioned above, the Tourism for Rural Poverty
Alleviation Project (TRPAP) has identified other areas (Table 4.2) with
potential for tourism development.
Table 4.2: Tourism Potential in the Country
Zone Sites Geographical
Seti Khaptad NP Hills
Karnali Dho VDC Mountains
Rara NP Mountains
Simikot VDC Mountains
Gandaki Lwang Hills
Nar and Phu Mountains
Lumbini Tansen Hills
Narayani Chitwan Terai
Bagmati Langtang NP Mountains
Source: TRPAP, 2001 cited in Shrestha and Walinga, 2003.
Main Ecotourism Attractions in Protected Areas
There are many activities undertaken under the banner of ecotourism. Popular
among them are nature walks, wildlife safari, elephant ride, nature photography,
camping, scientific study, jungle drive, mountaineering, river rafting/kayaking,
sight seeing, canoe rides, observing wild flowers and plants, trekking and bird
watching (Dhakal and Dahal 2000). It is also now accepted that ecotourism
helps generate financial resources for biodiversity and nature conservation. The
following Table presents summarized information of the major attractions of the
protected areas of Nepal from an ecotourism point of view.
Table 7.6: Ecotourism Potential of Protected Areas
P rotected Physiographi Biological and Cultural
Area c Location Significance
Royal Terai – Sal, Sal-pine, riverine
Chitwan Siwalik grassland, rhinoceros, tiger,
National Hills leopard, wild dog, sloth bear,
Park crocodile, gharial, king cobra,
Bengal florican, Balmiki
Royal Terai - Sal, pine, acacia, sissoo,
Bardia Siwalik grassland, wild elephant, tiger,
National Hills sloth bear, hispid hare,
Park Gangetic dolphin, black buck,
Koshi Terai Acacia, sissoo, riverine forest,
Tappu grassland, wild water buffalo,
Wildlife Gangetic dolphin, otter, wild
Reserve boar, python, gharial, leopard,
swamp francolin and richest
water fowl diversity.
Royal Terai – Sal, acacia, sissoo, extensive
Suklapha Siwalik grassland, elephant, swamp
nta Hills deer, tiger, hispid hare, Bengal
Parsa Terai – Sal, acacia, pine, mixed
Wildlife Siwalik hardwood, riverine vegetation,
Reserve Hills elephant, tiger, sambar deer,
leopard, giant hornbill, king
cobra, cobra, python. Kailash
parbat (Shiva temple).
Shivapuri Middle Schima, Castanopsis, oak,
National Mountain leopard, wild boar, langur,
Park Main rich bird species diversity,
watershed of habitat for relict Himalayan
Langtang Mid-hills - Sal, oak, blue pine, hemlock,
National High fir, birch, rhododendron, 15
Park mountains endemic plant species, red
panda, snow leopard, clouded
leopard, wild dog, musk deer,
Rara High Blue pine, fir, birch, musk
National Mountains deer, leopard, red panda,
Park impheyan pheasant, high
Khaptad High Oak, fir, conifer, musk deer,
National Mountains leopard, black bear.
Park Ashram of late Khaptad baba
(sage), Shiva shrine,
Khaptad daha – a shallow lake
Sagarmat High Blue pine, fir, juniper scrub,
ha Mountains alpine meadows, red panda,
National - High snow leopard, goral serow,
Park Himalaya musk deer, black bear, Indian
Makalu High Sal, Castanopsis, oak,
Barun Mountains rhododendron, orchids, high
National - High species richness, snow
Park Himalaya leopard, red panda, musk deer.
Dhorpata High Fir, hemlock, spruce, birch,
n Hunting Mountains junipers, grassland.
Reserve - High Game hunting reserve.
Annapurn High Hill sal, alder, oak, birch,
a Mountains junipers, Tibetan plateau, 56
Conservat - High endemic species of
ion Area Himalaya angiosperm, blue sheep, musk
deer, thar, red panda,
Kanchenj High Rhododendron, birch, blue
unga Mountains pine, larch, oak, snow leopard,
Conservat - High red panda, musk deer, blue
ion Area Himalaya sheep.
Manaslu High Oak, blue pine, larch, birch,
Conservat Mountains snow leopard, musk deer, blue
ion - High sheep, red panda, Himalayan
Area Himalaya thar.
Shey High Tibetan plateau ecosystem,
Phoksund Mountains oak, sp ruce, fir, birch, 30
o - Trans species of endemic plants, blue
National Himalaya sheep, musk deer, red panda,
Park snow leopard.
Buddhist religious site.
(Source: HMGN/MOFSC, 2002).
ACTIVITIES UNDER ECOTOURISM:
The current status of various tourist activities in Nepal is dealt with in the
following section. The information is drawn from various published and
unpublished documents of the Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA),
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).
Though rafting was introduced in Nepal in 1970, commercial rafting started
only in 1975. In this rather short period of time Nepal has earned a reputation
for being one of the best destinations in the world for whitewater rafting. Even
within a short distance of 100 miles, the topography varies significantly leading
to variation in the run of the rivers originating in high mountains which pass
through the middle hills before dropping dramatically in the southern plains and
joining the Ganges River System in India. The waters in Nepal offer exciting
adventure for travelers, with choice ranging from 2 to 3 day trips to 2 to 3 week
trips. Rivers are graded on the basis of the ferocity of their rapids, and Nepal has
rapids that range from 1 to 5+. Besides, rafting in Nepal offers options including
paddling and kayaking. The best time for rafting is from October through mid-
December and March through early May. So far the government has opened up
16 river sections for commercial rafting (NARA, 2004).
The rivers open for rafting and visitor numbers are presented in Table 8.1. The
data suggests that rafting is growing in popularity in Nepal.
Table 8.1: Rafting Development in Nepal
Year (1990 - 2002)
19 199 19 19 19 19 19 199 199 200 200 200
River 90 1 92 93 94 95 96 1997 8 9 0 1 2
45 45 46 49 40 52
Arun 0 430 5 0 0 0 5 575 200 500 100
10 13 14 15 17 13
Bheri 0 123 0 3 8 5 0 125 100 75 100
Bhote 1,5 2,0 2,8 3,0 3,0 1,8 1,5
koshi 00 00 2,500 00 00 00 00 00
andak 15 40 60 80 1,0 1,5 2,5 2,0 3,5 2,0 1,5
i 0 200 0 0 0 00 00 3,000 00 00 00 00 00
Karna 70 72 77 70 62 70
li 0 600 5 5 0 5 0 600 780 500 300 100
yangd 1,5 1,7 1,5 1,2
i 00 25 1,831 00 00 400 200 150
80 90 1,1 1,4 1,6 1,7 1,8 1,9 1,5
Seti 0 850 0 25 50 00 25 1,800 55 20 00 800 700
Sunko40 40 60 75 82 97 1,1 1,2 1,4
shi 0 600 0 0 0 5 5 1,000 00 50 00 700 600
koshi 20 10 15 25 12
Trish 00 3,5 6,0 4,3 5,2 5,6 7,0 13, 15, 20, 10, 9,0
uli * 0 00 00 00 50 01 00 9,251 500 000 000 000 00
5, 13, 16,
62 6,3 9,0 8,0 9,6 22 28 20,68 24, 25, 30, 15, 13,
Total 0 03 20 03 13 6 0 2 360 457 300 600 450
Source: NARA, 2004.
* Including Nepalese nationals.
Rivers opened for Rafting
• Arun River • Budhi Gandaki River
• Balephi River • Dudhkoshi River
• Bheri River • Kaligandaki River
• Bhotekoshi River • Karnali River
• Marsyangdi River • Sunkoshi River (Upper)
• Seti River • Tamakoshi River
• Seti Karnali River • Tamor River
• Sunkoshi River (Lower) • Trishuli River
Source: NARA, 2004
The immense contrast in altitude and climatic conditions in Nepal support an
equally spectacular blend of human settlements and variations in culture,
vegetation types and wildlife. Thus, Nepal offers excellent trekking options to
visitors, which range from easy walking excursions to the strenuous climb of the
snowy peaks and present a perfect cultural experience as well. Therefore, some
routes in Nepal are regarded as world-class trekking routes. Trekking in Nepal
is a big part of the ultimate Himalayan adventure and a majority of tourists have
trekking on their itinera ry. Trekking routes in Nepal vary from simple ones
within Kathmandu Valley to some very challenging treks in remote high-
The variation in elevation of many parts of Nepal makes trekking feasible in
certain areas of the country throughout the year. Autumn and spring are the best
trekking seasons in Nepal. Low elevation treks, such as around the Kathmandu
and Pokhara Valley are also pleasant during winter. Some regions in western
Nepal fall in the rain shadow of the Himalayan ranges, for instance the upper
Kali Gandaki Valley (Muktinath area) and the Dolpa region. These areas offer a
very different and exciting experience through trekking.
Major Trekking Routes
• Milke Danda - Tumlingtar • Annapurna Base Camp -
• Shivapuri - Kathmandu Pokhara
• Royal Trek - Pokhara • Annapurna Circuit - Besisahar
• Sikles - Pokhara • Makalu Base Camp -
• Panchasetre - Pokhara Tumlingtar
• Everest Base Camp - • Ganesh Himal - Gorkha
Jiri/Lukla • Mardi Himal - Pokhara
• Helambu - Kathmandu • Dhaulagiri - Pokhara
• Langtang - Rasuwa • Rara - Jumla
• Ghorepani - Pokhara • Kanchanjunga - Taplejung
• Jomsom - Pokhara • Manasalu - Gorkha
• Mustang - Jomsom
• Dolpo - Jumla/Dunai • Simikot - Simikot
Source: Dhakal and Dahal, 2000.
The challenging terrain and numerous tracks and trails make Nepal an ideal
place for mountain biking. It is a challenge and rewarding experience for
cyclists to climb up and down rough mountain roads and take in the magnificent
scenery. Biking offers an environmentally sound way of exploring this
magnificent country, its landscape and living heritage.
Among the biking options, the 70-km road from Balaju in West Kathmandu that
traverses through hill resort Kakani and then Trisuli Bazaar before descending
to Kathmandu from Shivapuri is popular amongst cyclists. Another option is the
two-day bike tour to Dhulikhel criscrossing ancient townships of Bhaktapur,
Namobuddha and Panauti that lie on the way. The most adventurous, however,
is the 75-km ride to hill resort Daman from Kathmandu via Tribhuvan Highway.
Pokhara also provides ample possibilities for bike lovers. A large number of
areas in the country could offer cycling options for tourists.
Hiking in Nepal can be an easy and pleasant experience. It is also the best way
to experience Nepal's natural and cultural heritage. Budhanilkantha, Nagarkot,
Dhulikhel, Kirtipur, Gokarna around the Kathmandu Valley provide pleasant
walks to rural hamlets and spiritual sites. Hiking to nearby villages and habitats
can also be done from Pokhara, Tansen and many other places in the country.
Since most parts of Nepal are still not connected by road, hiking routes are often
the foot tracks that may have been used for centuries. Spring and autumn are the
best times to hike.
Hand Gliding is another popular activity that provides an opportunity to observe
life and nature from the air. Power gliding using ultra-light aircraft is organized
by an aviation company in Pokhara. Hang gliding is offered at several places in
the country, mainly in Pokhara. The gliding experience comes with fantastic
views of the majestic Himalayas.
Nepal's first bungee jumping site is situated in Sindhupalchowk District, 160
meter over the Bhotekoshi River, close to the Nepal-Tibet border along the
Araniko Highway. The site is a 3 hour drive from Kathmandu
The International Eco-tourism Society (TIES) Research Papers.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Paper
Report of Forum for Sustainable Develoment (FSD)
Nepal Tourism Board - Information Manag ement & Planning Section
HMG - Ministry of Population and Environment (MOPE)