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Home stay : Redefining Tourism against Poverty

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As a Kathmandu based travel magazine editor, really little has been focused on the rest of the country. Our articles are focused on luxurious hotels, trekking trails and tourism conferences and seminars but have this really affect our Ground level people??

Well the time has come that the reconstruction authority has set up. Its task now is one economic line of the Country Tourism should not be taken for granted.  The real face of Tourism of Nepal can be really seen when we go out of Kathmandu.

The Earthquake followed by blockade has bitten our Ground people hard. We are late, but still we need to plan sustainable and focus on long term vision. I have focused time and again that Tourism Industry should be taken on note.

With billions to be spent on reconstruction effort, let us hope that this will help build not only resilient houses but also join hands with for Tourism; Tourism and Home stay.

2016 is the year for action. As we move forward to adopt a new sustainable development agenda, we have a unique opportunity to raise the level of assistance in tourism to further harness its vast potential for stimulating green growth and inclusive development in your Country. It should not be confined in Slogan but in Action.

The marginalized and ground level must have an Participatory approach . Despite lots of prospects for tourism-led development, the tourism sector still holds a meager share in Nepal’s GDP. The tourism benefits have also not reached up to the grass-root levels. A cause for this is that tourism has been mostly sought in and around the major destinations and trekking trails only.

A broader view on tourism is required to promote it beyond mainstream areas. As an effort, alternative forms of tourism are growing in the country since last few years. One of them is home stay tourism. In a recent meeting with Chinese tourism authorities, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has for China Promotion said “Tourism is well positioned to contribute to rural development as it is a labor-intensive sector providing a wide range of job and entrepreneurship opportunities in areas where other economic activities are often limited or in decay.

Furthermore, tourism provides these opportunities locally, helping to curb rural migration”. Home stay plays a key role in fostering multicultural understanding and contributing to the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. The involved households are satisfied with the gains from home stay and they are also committed to involve into this profession for longer periods with better plans.

Let me again go to China: Data from Chinese tourism authorities show that between 2011 and 2014, more than 10 million people, or 10% of the poverty-stricken population, were lifted out of poverty through tourism. In view of this impact, Chinese authorities are launching, within China’s 13th Five-Year Plan Period, a nationwide tourism development plan to lift 17% of the country’s impoverished population out of poverty by 2020.

The qualitative and quantitative characteristics of social overhead capitals like road, transportation, power, water, communication, security, hospital and market are the back bones which should be supportive. Too small household should be granted some loan in order to start a small scale business; we should focus this Agenda not on National scale but also on Regional and Global Agenda.

Partners and Donors should invest money on launching such Program me Despite its wide-reaching socio-economic impacts, and having been identified by half of the world´s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a priority instrument for poverty reduction, tourism still receives limited attention as a tool for development. Maximizing tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction is one of main areas of work for the Government.

In addition, the Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty Initiative supports tourism activities that specifically deliver development and create jobs for people living on less than a dollar a day. It is suggested that the government should begin a tourism campaign ‘Home stay Promotion Year’ facilitating home stay sector to grow under favorable and broader changes in its policies regarding home stay.

Such policies should facilitate home stay registration, reduce home stay taxation and formulate long-term policies to promote conservation-based, backward-placed and organic home stay systems in the country. Telecommunication sector should help promote home stay sector by improving communication quality and reducing tariff rates on calls made from home stay areas.

[The writer is Travel columnist and young entrepreneur and has been working in tourism sector since five years]

4 July, 2016, 5.00

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