How Trekking Can Make Positive Impact on Local’s Living Standard
‘Opening up for Trekking is opening up to the World’
Trekking is an adventure, one of the most popular activities opted by the adventure lovers in Nepal. You shall be surprised and may be touched to know that trekking in Nepal is beyond a mere adventure activity for the locals and the community directly and indirectly affected by the activity of trekking. Ever heard about responsible trekking, Eco tourism and ethical tourism? These concepts are directly and indirectly aimed at making the positive impact of trekking for the local community a sustainable one. Question coming to your mind may be of how are these concepts related to the living standard and well being of the locals? Let’s explore some of the reasons behind the linkage mentioned earlier.
Exposure to development and new ideas
Trekking is primarily on the rural areas and some of the trekking areas such as Upper Dolpo and Mustang were prohibited to the foreigners for a longer period of time as compared to others. You can assume the lagging behind in the development front and isolation from novel ideas for a long period. While trekking around these rural and isolated areas the development also made its way into these areas. Besides physical development, interaction with the foreigners opened the horizon for broader understanding of the world and introduction of new ideas to properly utilize the locally available resources.
Development of infrastructure in the trekking areas
If you can find the images of Annapurna and Everest region when they just began hosting the trekkers and compare it with the recent images, you can notice the vast difference in the development of infrastructure. These are some examples of positive impact of trekking in Nepal on the development of infrastructure in the regions with trekking routes. Electricity and other alternative sources of energy and related technologies, communication, air transportation were actively in place after the possibility of trekking and other such adventurous activities were identified in major rural areas that currently host trekkers. Tourists bring with them their expertise which when combined to create a new form of tourism as ‘Volunteerism’ (another name for Volunteer Tourism), can be of great benefit to local community.
Generation of new sources of earning
Trekking has expanded a lot in Nepal since its inception. You might have heard about ‘home stay’, which has provided a source of earning to the locals in trekking region without significant additional investment. Be it Everest region, Annapurna region or Langtang region, most of the locals are heavily dependent upon the income from trekking and related activities; some of the locals are trekking guides and porters while others have home stay and teahouses aimed at the trekkers passing through their villages. What’s better than this? You as a trekker enjoy the best moments through adventure while trekking and indirectly you pay back your gratitude to the same place. Please take note that you ensure that the amount you are spending goes back to the locals and not some foreign trekking company.
Revival of rural economies
Many instances are there when a rural area has economically revived, thanks to the trekking activities. Heard of devastation in Langtang due to the earthquake of last year? Good news is Langtang is on its way to stand on its own. Locals who survived the earthquake have reopened the trails, started the guesthouses and facilities again and are determined to bring Langtang back to business. All this is due to the trekking activity that has given locals the courage to stand up again. Trekking activities is helping reviving economy in Langtang. Be it Ghale Gaun in Lamjung or Namche in Everest region trekking has benefited rural economies a lot.
Access to new opportunities
Since Bill Tilman, the first trekker in Nepal had his share of trekking this area of adventure tourism has expanded in length and breadth. With this expansion increased number of opportunities. Trekkers started coming in and people started capitalizing this opportunity. Trekking agencies, ticketing agents, airlines, trekking guides and porters, hotels and teahouses and many more flourished in Nepal. With this development, people witnessed new opportunities. Innovative concepts in tourism sector, inflow of large investment in Nepal and engagement of Nepalese human resource (both skilled and semi-skilled or unskilled) in income generating activities helped generating new opportunities. Those who knew only to cultivate millet started hotel business and those who carried load for nothing got some money for carrying load of trekkers. Thus, trekking activities availed new opportunities for people in rural areas of Nepal.
Trekking has had some unwanted impact on the socio-cultural aspect of rural community including the stain in biodiversity and ecology, ill influence on local culture and indigenous technologies among some. However, you cannot ignore the positivity gained through trekking , especially in the rural areas. Its matter of time and ability when Nepal starts reaping in the benefits of trekking for its national interest.