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.