Issues in the Development of Community-Led Tourism in Nepal – the Example of Dhorpatan

Ravindra Nyaupane, Mike Pretious, and Suvash Khadka

Dhorpatan cluster is comprised of Dhorpatan hunting reserve in Baglung district, Madane protected forest area primarily in Gulmi and Okharkot-Gaumukhi heritage trail in Pyuthan initiatives which are connected local region geographically in parts of these three districts and the primary purpose of the cluster is to enhance local ecology and economy. From the perspective of tourism sector, it is themed as extreme adventure tourism cluster connected with well-known Great Himalaya Trail as a competitive regional cluster (see for example, Porter, 2000; Poudel et al., 2016).

There are number of challenging environment surrounding the phenomenon of tourism such as unstable workforce due to youths who mostly go to Middle East for work (Baruah and Arjal, 2018) and resultantly, nearly one third of Nepal’s GDP comes from their remittances (Shrestha, 2018) adversely impacting subsistence farming and precarious livelihoods and also importantly changing demographics and fabric of rural communities in Nepal (Maharjan et al., 2013; Pant, 2013) amid increasing climate change issues and natural disasters (RSS, 2018). These together are dynamically fast changing and highly disruptive. In response to these challenges, there are various programmes on conservation and livelihood being run and planned in broader Dhorpatan cluster region.

Beyond the diversity of programmes in different districts as stated in the beginning of this abstract, yet a more real but less acknowledged challenge lies in the organisation of cluster which is a programme specific multi-stakeholder public private partnership model (see for example, Crane et al., 2014) where various stakeholders such as government, NGOs, business enterprises and alliances present differing logic in terms of governance and organisational logic (Quelin et al., 2017).

In this context, this research investigates the perceived effectiveness of ongoing and future intervention such as on social enterprise (Pretious et al., 2018) specifically on community led tourism products toward creating blend of value – economic, ecological and wellbeing for people (Elkington, 1998) analysing processes (in a multi stakeholder setting) and outcomes using community-based participatory research (CBPR) technique, thereby creating a joint picture of the phenomenon (Rubin and Rubin, 1995). Furthermore, the application of more recently popularized concept of circular economy (see for example, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015) in extreme adventure tourism such as mountain bike skills, events and community empowerment project components in the cluster will also be carried out. The research is aimed at benefiting the community in Dhorpatan region primarily whilst also providing knowledge to academia and policy-makers.

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