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Eco-tourism: Opportunity and Challenge in Nepal

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Eco-tourism: Opportunity and Challenge in Nepal
Rabi Kiran Adhikari, EMBA, AIM
Nepal has been proved to be good destination for the tourism. The industry has been growing smoothly. The initiative for the expansion of the industry has been a priority of multisectoral organisation and people. But as expected; our economy has not made significant improvement through tourism. There are various manifestations for the underdevelopment of the industry. Even though there are various strategies adopted to improve the number and quality of tourist, there is only certain level of increment we have made. The increment of the tourism has given both the negative and positive outputs. The important aspect of the negative side of the tourism is pollution, cultural insensitivity and changes in values and beliefs. The ecotourism has been found to be the best alternative to improve the negative impact of the tourism. The concept of the eco tourism has come into practice to safeguard the environment and promote local culture and benefit the local communities and the tourists. The ecotourism focus on the conservation of the ecology and the goal is to achieve the sustainable development through responsible tourism. But it’s not easy to achieve the goal because there are not yet supportive environment and policy formulated. There is lack of appropriate plan of action and the guidelines for the implementation of the intervention. We know that there are some of the action has been carried out to promote the ecotourism but it’s through the donation and the funding from INGOs, but it’s very insufficient.

We know ecotourism is very favourable in Nepal but there are many things need to do, we don’t have that much awareness and capacity for promoting the ecotourism. The focus is give for the sustainable development and benefit of the local community so that the fruits of the tourism take place in right way. We all know and say tourism is the good source of the development of the countries economy but because of the weak management and not diversifying the tourism sector in different aspect the progress are not met as expected. The other part is the lack of exercise on ensuring the participation of local people in policy formulation to practice level and it has created the problem in ownership perspectives as well. Ecotourism is to be linked with strong base of dedication and development but due to various problems like poverty, political instability, poor education and health and corruption are the hindrance for the smooth running of the concept. Government of Nepal seems not interested in quality tourism rather they are focusing on the number game. We can see the game in tourism year 2011. They are suppose to make 1 million tourists but not made. So now our focus should be in quality tourism rather than number game. For this ecotourism is the best alternative from where we can develop the economy and promote the culture and satisfaction of the tourist. Ecotourism can be a panacea for both people and place, if it is handled carefully and it can also be a pitfall if it is handled with careless and superficial planning and management.

Research and investigation has been done very little in this field in Nepal and we don’t know the exact opportunity and challenge from ecotourism. If GON realise the importance of ecotourism and manage the resource responsibly then the industry can be leading towards the goal attainment if not it’s only a dream of Nepali people. Ecotourism can be a success if it’s been a part of an integrated system in which various elements and issues are interconnected and interdependent. So this is a complex phenomenon and in the case of Nepal it’s very challenging. So this needs the holistic plan of action where different actor and stakeholders need to link the collaborative approach. The government have to encourage the professional people for bringing out the best of the best alternatives and the instruments. Ecotourism need to be linked for the rural development and to make the development a successful the participation of the local community in the policy level to implementation level has to be ensured. For this the commitment of political, social and other are to be matched. The capacity development part is most essential for the sustainable development. So there is need to promote the local skills and knowledge. We know that the leadership is a most important factor for the successful implementation of any activity. But Nepal has been facing the serious crisis of leadership because of different gambling.

Government is the main leader but it’s like a worst leader. The strategy and the practice are in two directions. The mechanism of the monitoring is very weak, so improving all these dynamics would lead the successful run of the ecotourism as well. Furthermore the government has a main role to establish peace, safety, and security that are basic requirements for promoting ecotourism in the destinations. However, unfortunately Nepal ecotourism policy fails to deliver on these aspects. So ecotourism is remaining just a dream in many areas where there is maximum opportunities. Nepal has been a country of lack of information. Hence the tourism sector is also suffered form this information gap. There are very limited research has been performed and even though some existence the recommendation is not followed properly. Ecotourism can only be made better in its theory into practice, if scientific research has been done. Nepal is unique land of abundance of tourism resources which can only be used properly through ecotourism. Tourism has been the main foreign income sources of the country and it also supports the economy of the country. So ecotourism can be a promising industry in Nepal, if Nepalese government is committed to develop integrated and innovative ecotourism policy and planning that must address all the existing problems and challenges for better implementation.

Nepal needs effective ecotourism because whole mass tourism of the country has been creating various adverse impacts such as environmental and social pollutions, deforestation, and other many and they can only be checked properly if there is ecotourism practices with holistic planning and innovative leaderships of concerned authorities. Nepal still practises traditional tourism in the name of ecotourism due to massive policy deficit and various internal and also there is no special strategy for conservation and tourism development. Besides all these challenges in the fields of ecotourism, it can be a great opportunity for Nepal if all tourism resources are handled and utilized responsibly to achieve the sustainable development.

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