Nepal Welcomes Visitors, as Always: Tips for Responsible Travelers

Nepal Welcomes Visitors, as Always: Tips for Responsible Travelers

Nepal

 

By Wendy Brewer Lama, KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel

 

Nepal's hospitality has long been a favorite among world travelers. That, despite the political upheavals in recent years, has not changed, and the situation seems to be improving with the Maoists’ call for a ceasefire on 3 September 2005. "The ceasefire is a welcome opening for peace negotiations," says Wendy King, Nepal Peace Corps Volunteer and CARE employee who lived in Nepal from 1977 and 2004. "During my visit to Nepal in July, I felt as safe and welcomed as ever. No one in Nepal wants harm to tourists."

 

Bret Meldrum, a graduate student in mountain tourism management from University of Idaho, acknowledges that peace and a revitalization of tourism require "that government, the private sector, and NGOs collaborate to achieve a common goal."

 

What can visitors do to ensure that their stay in Nepal will be socially and environmentally responsible and beneficial to the local communities, as well as safe and enjoyable? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pay fairly for goods and services. Hire a local certified guide to help provide a job and be better informed.
  • Contact the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal for trekking information and a member directory.
  • Support community-based ecotourism projects in rural areas to improve livelihoods and conserve cultures and the environment. Check out information on Sustainable Tourism Network (STN), Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP), and others.
  • Support Nepal’s ecotourism codes of conduct and encourage those who practice it. Visit the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) office for information about environmentally sound trekking and more.
  • The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ranks parts of central and east Nepal, including the Everest and Langtang trekking regions, as moderately secure, and the Annapurna area as having moderate security problems. Find out more about where you wish to visit from your embassy or consulate in Nepal. 
  • All contact with the Maoists should be done through guides. Visitors should never put guides in risky situations.
  • Stay updated on news about political movements and safety issues. International media outlets, along with the Nepal Tourism Board, provide information on precautions to take and emergency response. • Visit a travel advisory website provided by your government. The following sites may be useful: Australian Government’s Travel Advisory, Canadian Consular Affairs, U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth office, and the U.S. State Department. Register with your consulate or embassy on arrival in Kathmandu.
  • Show respect for others' ways of doing things, and demonstrate equality and compassion as true democratic ideals.

Wendy Brewer Lama lived in Nepal from 1984 to 1999, working as an ecotourism planner and educator throughout the Himalaya and in Central Asia with The Mountain Institute, WWF, UNDP, Helvetas, and other organizations. She is currently an Advisor with the UNESCO program on Cultural and Ecotourism in the Mountain Regions of South and Central Asia. She and her husband Karma Lama operate KarmaQuest Ecotourism and Adventure Travel, a travel company that promotes to sustainable community-based tourism throughout Asia.

 

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