My summer of 2013 was spent in Nepal. Most of my time was allocated between the cities of Pokhra and Kathmandu and the distance between them. I learnt a lot about the country, its culture, architecture, history and landscape. It was one of my favourite holidays and I will treasure it for a long time. This blog entry will focus on how tourism has benefited the country.
Tourism is the main source of income for most people here and in both cities it has a huge presence. In either Kathmandu or Pokhra, one didn't have to walk around very long before coming to the conclusion that these cities both thrive on tourism. In Thamel, a section of Kathmandu that is specifically linked to tourists and shopping, it is very easy to get spoilt for choice as the whole area is pretty much lines of shows and restaurant punctuated by small empty spaces! Tourism also here performed a ripple effect in the community as it was through tourism that employment was created, which then supported many other areas of life for the locals such as education for their children, healthcare and even better nutrition.
Tourism also allows for the community to learn new skills. This was evident by the billboards in Chinese and various Asian and European languages and the American and Chinese dishes around every corner. This gives the local community more skills to help them compete with the world.
Tourism also allows the culture of Nepal to be preserved and presented well. Nepal has a lot to offer, and not just the Himalayas or Mount Everest! It has scenic temples, grand palaces, and beautiful smaller ranges and is teeming with friendly people and wildlife. The people here learnt their own traditional dances and languages and have learnt to maintain it in order to make a living.
Something else which made me realize how important tourism helps the community was the way in which it allowed many ancient buildings and monuments such as temples to be protected. Without tourism, all but a few religious sites would be demolished or at least run-down. Animals too benefit from tourism. Rhinos, elephants and leopards are among the endangered species found in the famous Chitwan reserve that can face a better future as a result of tourism as well, If it had not been for tourism many ancient buildings, century-old culture and rare animals would just go extinct!
Finally, Tourism here, contrary to popular belief actually prevents the Mcdonaldization of Nepal. Unlike many other capital cities, Kathmandu has little in the way of major brands such as McDonald's or Burger King or Gucci. This allows for small scale businesses to thrive. As mentioned earlier, there is so much to choose for if you are a tourist. This allows for monopolies to remain weak and for there to be greater consumer choice.
Tourism overall is a pillar of Pokhara and Kathmandu, Below are some images from my travels.