“Nepal is a country in the south east Asia very rich in natural beauty and bio-diversity.” This is one of the most familiar sentence for students, especially for the secondary level students of Nepal. Truly does this sentence hold relevance for present Nepalese scenario? Being ranked as 25th richest country in the world and 11th richest country in Asia in terms of biodiversity and the presence of wide variability of land forms and climatological regions within a small area, there is rarely any arguments on truth of above sentence.
“Ecological tourism”, or “ecotourism” as defined by IUCN‟s Ecotourism Programme is “environmentally responsible travel and visitation 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” .It can also be defined as “Travel to enjoy the world’s amazing diversity of natural life and human culture without causing damage to either”. Tourism industry is one of the ever expanding industry in Nepal. The number of tourists visiting Nepal annually is estimated to be around 0.8 million (2012 A.D). Tourism has provided employment to more than 5 millions of people and it is contributing 2% on National GDP( CBS 2012 A.D). However there are many negative impacts of tourism industry on environment as well. for e.g. In addition to being the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest has been labeled “the world’s highest junkyard” due to the amount of kit, rubbish, waste and even bodies left on its slopes. Indeed, various cleanup expeditions have been mounted over the years even venturing into the treacherous “death zone” – to remove polluting waste from the mountain. The establishment of the hotels, lodges and resting sites in the tourist destination areas (esp. in the trekking areas) has led to rapid deforestation and pollution. This is where the need of Ecotourism arises in Nepal. Ecotourism involves the responsible travelling to areas conserving the environment and improving well being of local people.
The Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP) is an initiative of the Government toward Ecotourism in Nepal working on principle of sustainable eco-tourism with technical and financial support from various international development agencies and non government organizations. Nepal recently celebrated Visit Nepal Year 2011, but the saddest part is most of the remote parts with huge potential in tourism development were completely unknown about the campaign launched by the government and most of these areas were using the board of Visit Nepal year 1998 for attracting the tourist in the area. The foremost requirement for the publicity on tourism is the development of much lagging infrastructures in the country; proper road, drinking water and sanitation. As the infrastructures are developed, the flow of investment increases. When the number of tourist increases, the eco tourism-based economy has to be increased and attention must shift to sustained public action. With the environmental hazard increasing at alarming rate and the richness in biodiversity holding huge potential for tourism development, the sustainable Ecotourism should be the plan Nepal should look forward to.
About half a million youth leaving for abroad in quest of so called better job oppurtunities, it would be a huge boost for Nepalese economy if government would be able to attract the youth towards eco-tourism. As ecotourism helps in promoting the local industries, it thus provides abundant business and employment oppurtunities to the young generation. Youth participation in the promotion, management and maintainence activities in the local community will enhance the success rate of eco-tourism. These youth activities may increase the flow of tourists in their communities. Tourism brings technologies, foreign currency and other expenses along with the tourist. Thus Eco-tourism helps in bridging the gap between modernized areas and small local tourism potential areas in which the youth have the foremost role.
As youth are labeled as the most energetic age group, they must lead from the front in all of the developmental works in the country and Eco-tourism sector is no exception. The youth should have deep knowledge on area, flora, fauna, culture, lifestyle and tradition of the potential areas. In considering the development of tourism on particular location, one should not forget the existence of local inhabitants who depend upon the natural resources of the area for survival. So the relationship between the local people and the environment should be kept on mind while conducting the developmental works.
Youth can be involved in promoting the environmental and cultural awareness and raising awareness on the political, environmental and social issues of the locality.
The promotion of the local potentially rich eco-tourism sites is crucial, especially among the youth as this age group has the special power to link the needs of the present generation with the future generation. The youth should bear responsibility to preserve the quality of the environment in order to develop self sustained economy without compromising with the needs of future generation.
Image Credit : Sujan Paudel | Ghorepani Treking Route