Helping poor communities in Nepal benefit from Tourism

Helping poor communities in Nepal benefit from Tourism
Helping poor communities in Nepal benefit from Tourism

Thursday, 17 January 2002: Poor communities near some of Nepal's prime tourist destinations stand to reap greater economic benefits with help from an expanding programme.

The initiative helps reorient tourism policies to help rural communities where lower castes and ethnic minorities face poverty and discrimination. It aims to develop local strategies to attract tourists to villages in ways that are in harmony with local cultures and environments.

The programme seeks ways to attract tourists to the communities to experience the local cultures, such as festivals and crafts, and works with the communities to help develop the services and facilities needed.

The programme began in 2001 in three districts that are popular tourist destinations with great potential for nearby communities. These are Dolpa, home to a pre-Buddhist religion; Lumbini, birthplace of Buddha; and Chitwan, where there is a national park.

Support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will enable inclusion of three more communities near tourist destinations in mountainous districts. Sagarmatha, the Nepali name for Mount Everest, is home to a national park near the world's highest peak. Kanchanjunga in the east, and Langtang, near Kathmandu, are also popular areas for tourists.

UNESCO has named Lumbini a world heritage site and Chitwan and Sagarmatha world natural heritage sites.

The ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation, working with UNDP, plays a key role in implementing the project, in partnership with the ministry of finance. DFID is providing US$ 4.1 million for the new phase, building on more than $1 million in support from the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) for the first phase.

Kashi Nath Sharma, joint secretary of the ministry of finance, thanked UNDP and its partners for mobilizing resources for the programme and supporting efforts to explore new strategies to fight poverty.

UNDP Resident Representative Henning Karcher described it as a milestone in changing development strategies in Nepal.