The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal
The development of the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal is the outcome of a three years ST-EP project that started in 2009 with funding from the tripartite alliance between SNV Nepal, the ST-EP Foundation and UNWTO. The Trail links together a range of the less explored tourism destinations and products of Nepal’s mountain region with a view to create an iconic tourism product with global profile and appeal that will attract increased numbers of new and repeat visitors to Nepal. The main objective was to create a trekking route that crosses both well-known areas as well as other lesser-known sites that are very poor but have enormous tourism potential. These sites include Humla - the gateway to Mount Kailash which is referred to as the sacred mountain of Buddhism and Hinduism, and Dolpa, in the country’s mythical high mountain valleys, to which the National Park Shey Phoksundo belongs.
In both regions, tourism was underdeveloped, because of limited demand from international tourists and tour operators, and lack of products and services offered by local people. The project addressed both issues through active marketing and capacity building at local level to improve the offer. Both in Humla and in Dolpa, a value chain analysis was carried out to identify opportunities for enhancing the local economic impact from tourism, which formed the basis for the preparation of a strategic tourism action plan, geared towards the development of sustainable tourism benefiting the poor.
Based on the activities proposed in the action plan, trainings and capacity building interventions were organized focusing on three priorities: accommodation, excursions, and vegetable supply chains. Empowering Women of Nepal, an NGO established in 1999, was selected to deliver market based capacity building for all coming from rural mountain regions, to receive training in trekking and adventure tourism. In addition, few training workshops were also organized for the District Development Committees in Dolpa and Humla to build their capacity to implement the tourism action plans and to create an enabling environment for sustainable tourism development.
Based on a detailed marketing strategy, various promotional materials have been developed and distributed at events like the Pacific Asia Travel Association Adventure Travel Mart in Kathmandu (PATA), ITB Berlin and,World Travel Mart (WTM) London. Furthermore, the Trail was promoted through organizing familiarisation trips to Dolpa and Humla for tour operators and media, whose articles have appeared in publications such as Nepal Traveller, National Geographic and The International Ecotourism Society Newsletter.
For further information on the Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme, please visit: www.thegreathimalayatrail.org