Nepal is home to some of the world’s most iconic religious pilgrimages, thick jungles and, of course, its tallest mountain. Mount Everest became open for trekking to the world in the 1950s. Since then, a large part of Nepal’s tourism success can be attributed to trekkers taking on the fearsome mountain.
However, as with all of tourism, it comes at a cost. Floods of people from around the globe arrive in Nepal and they have an impact on the environment as well as the people. The cheaper their holiday, the less their guides are being paid and the less money goes back into Nepal itself.
So how exactly is sustainable tourism in Nepal possible?
Thanks to Trip Advisor’s forward-thinking initiative, sustainable tourism in Nepal is becoming easier.
Kimkim allows travellers to have a much more intimate booking experience, especially when it comes to Nepal. You are able to book with a local guide and speak to the leader of the trip directly before even arriving in country.
This way of booking means that there is less exploitation of people and the environment. You are able to travel to Nepal more informed and responsibly when travelling with kimkim.
Knowing you’re being guided by a local is also a bonus for sustainable tourism too. As kimkim doesn’t facilitate booking with a major travel operator, guides will benefit from your money. As will the local economy and Nepal itself.
If you booked with a large corporation then there would be leakage. This is a term used to describe the issue posed when money being spent on a holiday in a certain country doesn’t stay there. Instead, it goes to businesses outside of the country and they barely receive any benefits.
There are other companies out there that also follow this ethos and you’ll need to do your research on them.
There is currently little being done in real terms by the government in Nepal when it comes to sustainable tourism.
Following the tragic earthquake in 2015, tourism numbers dropped by a mighty 90%. This will have been detrimental to Nepal’s economy seeing as the tourism industry accounted for 8.5% of all jobs in the country and amassed to 5.4% of all GDP, even in the year of the quake.
It’s not difficult to see why the government is reluctant to make it harder and more expensive for tourists. They need a lot of money and a lot of help to get Nepal back on track again.
However, there is something that travellers can do to help with that, despite the government’s unwillingness. After all, it’s travellers who consciously choose their means of trip. So, they can opt for the sustainable option or the unsustainable option.
The founder of Social Tours, a partner of kimkim, Raj Gyawali, said on the matter of true sustainable tourism in Nepal: “If you want to go deeper [into sustainable tourism], then you’re talking about staffing, energy usage in your company, guide wages. All these things are internal-facing, and I think that is where the deeper aspect of responsibility comes in.”
He has a real point. Sustainable tourism is not just eco-friendly cars and reduction of pollution. It’s the whole picture, including the people involved.
Sustainable tourism in Nepal: top tips
So, looking at sustainable tourism in Nepal as a whole, there are a number of things to consider. Here are a few of our pointers for ensuring your trip is as responsible as possible:
- Book with a small tour operator. Don’t choose a huge one in Kathmandu that provides an impersonal service as if booking a package holiday. This trip will not only affect you, but the other people involved.
- Generally, the more expensive the trip, the kinder it is to the people and the environment. It’s a travel truth and one that means you might not be able to jet off as quickly as you could. However, it also means that when you’ve saved up and get to do the trip right, it’s so much more rewarding.
- Make sure to triple-check your tour operator. Look at the whole picture: pollution, transport, guides, porters and energy usage.
We hope this guide has helped you get to grips with sustainable tourism in Nepal. It’s something important for both travellers and environmentalists.
We think that this famous quote sums up sustainable tourism better than any other: “Take only photos and leave only footprints.”