Village Tourism ‘A Poverty Alleviation Strategy’
Dr. Prem Sharma The term tourism has become a common parlance to most of the conscious people across the globe. It is to selling of dreams. How to make Nepal a tourist recreational destination is being a concern of all Nepali who regard tourists as Gods, Atithi Deva Bhava. Tourism is one of the most potential areas for the notion of development. Nepali lives in villages. The development of Nepal cannot be achieved sans rural development. Rural poverty cannot be alleviated without rural economic development so rural tourism can be one of the activities of rural development in Nepal.The evolution of Tourism developed from tourist. The tourist is a person who makes a journey for the sake of curiosity or for the fun of traveling. He is a temporary leisure person who voluntarily visits place away from home for the purpose of experiencing a change. Tourist in present context is defined as a person who travels outside to learn, fall in love with nature, to relax and to enjoy the socio-cultural setting outside his region. Tourism is the business of attraction of five sense organs of human being. Today tourism is particularly related with the economic development of an individual, society and the nation. It is equally beneficial to the hosts and the guests. Mutually who gets in what quantities and qualities in exchange are determined by the capacity of the party who is involved in it. The fundamental premises of the tourism development are based on the demand and supply driven mechanism. A number of villages of Nepal are major attractions of visitors. Natural gifts, biodiversity, and ethno-cultural heritage have been proved as the boon to the nation. It is an explicit concept that affluent and conscious people harness the gifts to achieve maximum benefit out of them. The dimensions of needs vary individual to individual, perhaps according to the capacity and the extent of the resources. Therefore, the basic prerequisite of tourism industry trades off the needs between the affluent and the needy. Nepal is such a destiny for those who are in desperate need. There are many such unique and novel areas to be explored which are equally luring to the pioneers and connoisseurs of the tourism. Over a couple of years, Nepali scholars, development planners, policymakers and tourism entrepreneurs have taken interest in village tourism which is also known as community based tourism. It may not be unusual weary of them how to prosper the country life of ours where the majority (85%) of the people spend their lives based on 76% agro-occupation. The rural areas and lives of Nepali people bank a huge tourism resource. It can be a good market for domestic, regional (SAARC countries plus China) as well as the international tourists. Village tourism can be one of the viable contributing factors for national development. It is income generating activity where poor will have employment opportunities. Its scope is greater however currently the transactions can be limited for a while. Village tourism can be based in special areas, locality, settlement and village with its typical peculiarity because a village possesses varieties or specialties. To cite few examples– fish items of Rani Pouwa and Malekhu, Magar Sorathi folk dance of Chilaunekhark Pole-21 metropoletancity, hot spring water bath of Myagdi, Shambala trek and Bhot culture of Humla, Ranighat Durbar- Palpa, Fikal Tea-estate- Illam, Nagarkot and Daman for sight seeing, Manakamana for pilgrimage and cable car, Sedibeni- Parbat for rafting, boating and pilgrimage, Raute people (nomad), typical Gurung culture of Ghalegaon and Sirubari, etc. Nepal has no acuteness of resources and opportunities for tourism development. It can be the backbone of the economy and an important measure to fight against the rural poverty. The tourism potentialities are mostly unexplored, minimum in use and not brought at the screen of dissemination. It should be done because the 21st century is the age of IT and Consumerism. Tourism promotes economic development; helps familiarize people, culture and many more information among the nations and people across the nation. By nature tourism is defined as “traveling for recreation”. Who does travel? The affluent who possesses money and is in leisure. The term ‘recreation’ ranges and covers a wide area and items of pleasure. Therefore, a tourist spot must meet the aim and desires of the tourist. For instance, pleasing weather, scenic attraction, historical and archaeological heritages, cultural treasures, accessibility, amenities, accommodation, hospitality, biological and psychological desires. As China has declared 2005 AD as Year of Red Tourism for economic development of rural areas, Nepal can do that. In European countries, the village tourism is in prosperity. In Austria, many village communities run small cottages, inns, and guest rooms and the tourists are provided bed and breakfast. In Israel, the cooperative (Kibbutz and Moshav) sponsors and manages the village tourism. Even she has unique family visit tourism. Since the school life many students in Israel prefer traveling. Tourists are guided to the agro-farm, local products, diary farm and acquainted with the rural life setting. The local products are sold as souvenirs. Therefore, there is high potentiality to develop a rural-urban linkage for rural development. Though Nepal has immense prospects of village tourism, for the time being the country will not be able to exploit the treasury of it. The reasons behind it are more. Except few people of capital and cities one cannot afford money, time and attention. It is evident that we the Kathmanduties have initiated village tourism at the vicinity, adjacent localities of the valley and gone beyond to Sauraha, Ghandruk, Ghalegaon, Kaulepapani, Amaltari, Kakani, and Manakamana. Most middle level income people are the fans of it. Therefore, whenever the economy of middle level people increases, the volume of village tourism prospers. Government’s measure for Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Program (TRPAP) started in six districts can be regarded as pro-poor tourism. It has tries to directly link with the rural poverty. Few sites are selected as pilot project destinations. The plan needs an action plan with specific programs based on entrepreneurs’ need. As a facilitator, the government should build forward and backward linkages network. Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) can do more than what it is designated today in the days ahead. But the role of private sector is more important than that of government. The Tenth Plan also stresses the tourism sector as an important instrument of poverty reduction. But a public private partnership program is highly desirous. A collective effort is required. The convergence of need and capacity of both the locals and the tourists is expected where a win-win situation is likely. Though Nepal has a good prospect of tourism, the following constraints should be considered: more than one third of the total population are under the poverty line. Most village tourism potential areas are beyond the accessibility of domestic tourists the affluent rarely has leisure time and the leisure one has no money, i.e. the level of economic condition is adverse political instability or poor governance, and apathetic culture are the main impediments of the development the specialty and identity of village tourism destinations is mostly unexplored or half-explored, inaccessible and underdeveloped the government has insufficient plan, policies and programs regarding the promotion of village tourism since the lack of research studies, central information network system has not been established except the office of Nepal Tourism Board urban centre oriented development plan and priorities of the government tend urban migration; consequently most ethnic cultures, feast and festival, ceremonies and celebrities are urbanized as well as faked. the awareness level of the locals is very low who cannot identify themselves and use resources around them conservative social structure, traditional concept and legacy, parochial culture, social taboos and slow impact of advanced cultures are some of the challenges to this regard there is inadequate information dissemination and communication i.e. ads and publicity; and etc. Thus, village/community tourism is a meso tourism concept evolved lately in the tourism world. Nepal can be a model destination of it for she possesses multi-faceted potentialities. Natural gifts, man made heritages ethno-cultural richness, innocent social setting and hospitality and many more unexplored treasures are dreams for connoisseurs of tourism. Village tourism can not prosper sans the convergence of needs of the affluent and the needy based on the premise of demand driven mechanism because it is a need base concept. Nepal can harness the boon of tourist potentiality rampant at the rural areas where government has pro-poor programs. Realizing the fact some donors and international agencies has taken initiative to promote the tourism development of Nepal as well as in the south Asian region. The mission can not be achieved without a synergic effort of public private partnership. There are few challenges to be addressed as preconditions for the sustainability of rural development of the country.