Cultural Tourism: An Ethnographic Study of Home-Stay in Briddim, Rasuwa, Nepal
This study examines the local perspective of home-stay tourism with the additional objective of how private houses and individuals are connected to global tourism and lead for cultural change. The exchanges of cultural differences between host community members and tourists have definite and observable effects.
The study was carried out in Briddim village, a Buddhist society speaking the Tibeto-Burman language of Langtang Region. They have a local tradition, belief system, hospitality, and religious sites (monastery, prayer wheel, and prayer flags) which are the symbol of living museum. This culture also serves as a resource which is commercialized in order to enhance home-stay tourism.
By completing three life histories, five in-depth interviews, thirty two informal discussions with home-stay operators, guides, and porters and participating in their everyday life and some occasional events, I argue that home-stay business is not always associated with an economic aspect of profit and loss. Rather it has to be analyzed in the local situational context. It is true that elite home-stay venues receive more tourists as they are connected with social networks and different trekking offices; however, for many local people, home-stay is not only a business profession but it is their home where they live and work. Therefore, although home-stay brought number of positive impacts especially directly employment, women empowerment, increased tourism skills, and community development, this will be incomplete analysis if we look only from the perspective of sustainable business. Engaging with anthropological theories on globalization and theory of cultural change, my study also highlights on cultural exchange between host community and tourists through which both local people and visitors feel change in some movement of their life. For trekkers, Namaste and Jam-jam are common words and Dal-bhat and Masala tea are Nepali menu favorites. These might be used in their home country while for the Nepali they are part of tourists’ life-style and cultural behavior. Trekking guides are the best example of tourist culture as they wear tourists’ gears. Guides know these clothes are comfortable and quality products. This culture now became a reality in part of their life with the interconnection of village and global tourism.