Nepal receives just short of half a million visitors a year. The positive impact of these visitors is that the tourist industry generates 20% of the foreign exchange for the economy and employs 275,000 people. This foreign income is much needed by one of the poorest countries in the world. However, this often comes at a cost to the environment. Below are the key impacts of tourism in Nepal, with a pledge to how we can ensure sustainability and contribute positive impacts. The past can not be changed but together we can help shape the future.
Energy Use & Deforestation
The WWF estimate that only 29% of the original forest cover in Nepal still remains. Between 1990 and 2005, Nepal lost 1.2 million hectares of forest representing about 25 percent of its total forest cover. The world bank estimates that 90% of wood use is for fuel and that 73% of households use wood as their primary fuel source.
The Responsible Travellers Pledge
- That where there is a choice we will only use teahouses that use renewable energy or improved efficiency fuel stoves and water heating systems such as biogas and solar energy
- As part of our charitable giving we work with BSP Nepal to advocate, promote and financially support the installation of biogas. Please see the conservation section of Charity Projects to read more about this, and look at our Carbon Balancing Policy
- In addition to work with the people supplying the industry here to promote conservation and renewable energies, we also advocate this amongst our customers. We encourage the use of renewably powered torches such as solar and wind up to avoid use of batteries in the mountains which if not disposed of properly can pollute the water source.
With the growth in the number of visitors, management of waste in rural and remote areas is a growing issue. In a year 20kg of plastic bottles are removed from the mountains to Kathmandu and a further 15kg of non-recyclable solid waste is also generated. Further to this, sanitation waste is an issue that requires education to the lodge owning community, in order to avoid land and water pollution.
The Responsible Travellers Pledge
- Provide FREE filtered water to all customers in an attempt to irradiate plastic bottles from the mountains. Our code of practise shows customers how their choice of potable water can affect the environment and for those who wish to accept, FREE water is filtered by their Sherpa crew
- Provide a “leave no trace” stuff bag to all customers. This is used to ensure the removal of all disposable waste generated by our clients
- Encourage customers to remove packaging from items before entering the mountains to avoid unnecessary waste and use renewably powered items to avoid use of batteries
- Provide a “Say no to plastic” shopping bag to all customers. Non-recyclable plastic bags are a major waste hazard in Nepal. By providing these bags we avoid the use of such bags, and we shall be advocating a plastic free zone for the tourist districts as part of our programme to promote others to follow in ethical practises
- Support our lodge owners to attend sanitation & waste management programmes operated in association with KEEP (to read more look at the heritage reservation section of Charitable Projects)
- Through our Charitable giving we are also supporting incinerators to provide a disposal method for burnable wastes, and biogas plants to provide a disposable method for organic wastes. This is operated in conjunction with our partners and we are proud to be installing and promoting these waste management practises.
Tourism can only benefit a region if the revenue is remaining within the local economy. Large commercial organisations are able to charge first world prices to customers and pay third world fees to suppliers thereby maximising profits. This does not encourage sustainable or responsible tourism.
The Responsible Travellers pledge
- To ensure that all the economic benefits remain in Nepal. We have a strict Employment Policy which combined with our charitable support means that every penny you spend is directed into sustainable tourism and community development for the people and environment of Nepal, and
- We have an off the beaten track policy which ensures that for every popular route we promote, we also promote a less frequented “off the beaten track” location. This policy was formulated with the help of advisors at Nepal Tourism Board – Tourism for the alleviation of rural poverty, and WWF. We are grateful for their inputs. Visitors can enjoy less visited areas and see more authentic cultures and practises in these locations, which provides for a rewarding experience for them, and much needed benefit to the local economy
- As part of our heritage conservation programme we support facilities that providing authentic Nepali experiences, built with authentic styles, supporting local cultures and using traditional practises.
In order to maintain and respect the cultures and environments that we visit we ask our clients to adopt The Responsible Travellers code of practice:
- To avoid offending the local cultures women should try to keep their shoulders and legs covered. Trekking skirts are a good option, and t-shirts that cover the shoulders for ladies, whilst men are requested to wear their shirts at all times.
- You will see many beautiful faces on your travels. Please remember to be respectful when photographing people and ask their permission before doing so.
- Please do not give to begging children, this only serves to encourage bad practice. If You wish to contribute then please ask your leader how you can make a gift aided donation to one of our charities to allow help to be given in an organised manner by professionals.
- Try to respect local tradition. There are a number of customs you will come across on Your trip which your guides and Leader will explain.
- Fuel conservation. As a group consider eating the same choice on the menu when you Order dinner at the tea-house as it takes more fuel to make more variations at dinner. Also try to avoid the use of boiled water heated on wood stoves for washing.
- Renewable Energy: In order to discourage forest degradation try to take a shower where solar power or gas is used rather than accepting water heated on a wood stove.
- Drinking Water: Filtered water is the most environmentally friendly way to generate safe drinking water. As an alternative we encourage the treatment of water with iodine tablets. Please consider the impacts of using bottled or boiled water, as plastic bottles require safe disposal, and boiling of water consumes fuel.
- Human Waste: Toilet facilities, albeit basic are available in all villages, please refrain from using “wild toilets”. Please follow instructions on how to dispose of your toilet paper
- Rubbish Disposal: Before your trek try to reduce any rubbish items by removing Packaging from any items you take to the mountains. Whilst on trek please use your Responsible Travellers bag to keep all your litter items including: plastics, paper / card wrappers, tissues and metal to give to us to dispose of responsibly back in Kathmandu. Please take batteries back home with you to dispose of safely.
- Souvenirs: try to buy local crafts from fair trade outlets rather than imported goods. This encourages the practice of fair wages and promotes the local economy . If in doubt about a fair price or where to shop please ask your leader.
- As a conservation advocate we ask you not to purchase products made from animal products In order to discourage illegal poaching of our indigenous species.
- Standards of Living: remember there is a large gap in the standard of living. Try not to make extravagant displays of wealth, and consider the impact of bargaining low prices on the local traders.
If you are ready for a change in the way you approach your holiday, we believe no-one else can offer you a better option than The Responsible Travellers.