Community-based ecotourism venture in Nepal

Community-based ecotourism venture in Nepal

Round 1 Nepal Tourism Completed

56%

44%

Partner contribution

$ 190,000

DFAT contribution

$ 150,000

Icon Total Funds

Total Value

$ 340,000


Start: August 2017 - End: April 2019

Partners

The Intrepid Group

The Intrepid Group is the world’s largest provider of adventure travel experiences. Over its 37 years of operation, the company has adhered to a socially and environmentally responsible ethos.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

WWF is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of humanity’s footprint on the environment.

About this partnership

This partnership aims to provide ecotourism homestays and experiences within the Madi Valley community, to establish unique wildlife programs within Chitwan National Park and commercial activities within the community (such as handicraft skills and culinary opportunities) that support higher rates of medium stay visitors.

Chitwan is a World Heritage Site and the second most popular tourist destination in Nepal. The current tourist products are short term and, despite their popularity, have limited positive impact for local communities. Ecotourism is not well established in Madi Valley and the partners propose to address this imbalance by growing community-based ecotourism options in the valley.

The partnership is building on the area’s natural assets and expanding the opportunity for quality wildlife tourism which will, in turn, lead to greater diversification from current tourism, predominantly trekking, in Nepal. The project will prove the viability of eco-based tourism in the region and provide significant business and employment opportunities for its inhabitants, foreign exchange for the economy and new experiences for Intrepid travellers.

Intrepid is providing funding, creating the travel product in Madi Valley, selecting appropriate suppliers/activities and providing training on safety and hygiene. Intrepid will market and sell the trips through established marketing channels that reaches global audiences, guaranteeing almost immediate access to significant volume of visitors once infrastructure is in place. WWF Nepal is leading the establishment of the ecotourism homestays, as it has done in other regions. The organisation has the technical skills necessary to establish an ecotourism venture, including governance and management procedures, community benefit sharing mechanisms, hospitality industry skills, business skills and mentoring relationships between homestays and larger private sector operators. WWF Australia acts as liaison between Intrepid and WWF Nepal.

By enhancing the tourism ‘product’, there will be an increase of direct income at the homestay level through increased international tourist visits to Madi Valley. A number of new jobs will be created through the construction of wildlife viewing platforms and other infrastructure, cooking demonstrations, wildlife activities, food and beverage supply, transport provision, craft making, cultural activities, and other jobs servicing the newly established hosting of international tourists.

Revenue from this project will use existing successful governance systems in the region to ensure the community benefits as a whole. Nepal is often cited as having one of the world’s most participatory models of protected area management. The Buffer Zone Management Committee in the area, that includes park managers, local user groups and community leaders will enable local residents to use tourism activities to generate income and support community development of wildlife conservation.

Gender

This initiative applies the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion policies and strategies of WWF and the Government of Nepal, initially directly benefitting 40 households and empowering over 200 women and girls economically, socially and personally. This empowerment will help reduce exclusion, discrimination and social disparity between women and men.

Women, traditionally engaged in ‘invisible’ and intensive work, will be empowered to seek alternative income opportunities. Training delivered in this partnership enhances their skills and capacity for alternative income generation in the local community.

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