ACTIVISM: SUSTAINABILITY, ETHICS & ECO-BASED TOURISM
Vimal Thapa, the founder & managing director of Nature-Treks is one of the renowned ornithologists in Nepal. As modest as he is, not many people know about him and his partner, Megh Bahadur Ale, who were the initiators of Community Eco-Tourism in Nepal, in 2009. For those who are new to this concept, Community Ecotourism is when nature is considered most important capital.
In Nepal, the most compelling natural attractions are mostly found in the protected areas & within this natural environment, our poor communities are struggling to survive on a daily basis. Sadly, despite the abundance of natural resources in these places, the people can’t make ends meet. Ecotourism provides economic initiative for poor people living in destinations without standing natural attractions to take care of these resources. This creates a sense of stewardship among the people of the understanding that their lives depend on the integrity of the natural environment. Ecotourism promotes the establishment of micro-enterprises focused on the provision of services and products to the visitors.
Marginalized members of the community such as Fisher Folks & Farmers are capacitated to become community guides and take people to snorkel in freshwater lakes or hike in the forest trails. Women prepare local food for the visitors and engage them in unique culinary experiences.
It’s been very clear that teaching community-based ecotourism in practice and the ethics of sustainability in an applied business context is a big challenge. So how do we design a tourism experience to get that impact both for the tourist, for the local community & for the environment as well as for the tourism provider. Nature-Treks provides livelihood and supplemental income by taking good care of natural resources. Nature-treks provides hope for many communities living in protected areas of Nepal. This is the starting point of community’s journey towards empowerment, working together towards a common vision and gets them the desire and the power to craft their future.