Mountain tourism as a long-term development means – Adventure Alternative 15 years’ experience
MOUNTAIN TOURISM AS A LONG-TERM DEVELOPMENT MEANS – ADVENTURE ALTERNATIVE 15 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE
Project Status: Ongoing
PRESERVE LOCAL CULTURE THROUGH SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The project aims to improve all aspects of the quality of life of the inhabitants as individuals and as a wider community and culture. In developing the assets and quality of life in the communities there is a further aim to stem the migration of the younger generations, and associated skill base, to the more urban lowlands. This will maintain the life and vibrancy of these unique communities and help to ensure that they continue to be a strong, living culture on into the future without being eroded by, and lost to, aspiration to western culture.
A strong principle throughout was that progress needed to be sustainable as a long term objective. A few ways of achieving this were implemented. The first was that funding revenue would come largely through the contribution of tourism and visitors to the villages. A second was that income-generating initiatives would be established which would pay for the ongoing running costs and maintenance of the project infrastructure and staffing. A third was that the local community needed to take on ownership, literal and psychological, of the projects and be the driving force in steering and maintaining it.
The project is the implementation of a long-term development plan for two rural villages in the Nepal Himalaya in partnership with our associated NGO the Moving Mountains Trust. Overall enhancement of quality of life and sustainability of the community has so far been achieved via: improved efficiency ‘smokeless’ cooking stoves, piped clean drinking water, hydro-electric power, hydro-powered milling machines, improvements in school facilities, sponsorship of staff, sponsorship of students, renovation of temples, improvement of paths, provision of medical and health support, building of a medical clinic etc..
FOCUS ON TRAININGS FOR THE COMMUNITIES
Aside from the more tangible material and monetary assistance the community is being empowered to govern its own wider long-term sustainability through the continued training and employment of its members. This includes the fields of tourism in the trekking and mountaineering industry of the area, provision of medical and healthcare and in establishing systems whereby the hydro-powered plant can earn its own revenue to become self-sustaining. Additionally, local people have received structured training in the skills needed to sustain the initiatives, including maintenance and repair of the Hydro plant and training of medical nurses for the soon to be complete medical centre. UK and Nepali trustees of the NGO collaborate with the community through a network of stakeholders, starting with a local village committee canvassing from the community at large and meeting to discuss progress and agree future strategy. There are people at all stages of the process who are not only community volunteers, committee members and trustees but also full time and seasonal employees of Adventure Alternative. This extended community involves many close friendships which have been forged over 15 years or more.
THE GENUINE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN CLIENTS AND COMMUNITIES
As previously mentioned, the opportunity for clients to directly see and be involved in the initiatives is central to our strategy for making the projects sustainable in the long term and also based on a ‘fair-exchange’ principle as opposed to an ongoing series of simple monetary injections from nameless sources.
As a result, we offer a number of ways that clients can get directly involved in the project at large, depending on factors such as time available and skills and interests that they themselves already have. A few examples are as follows:-
As part of an itinerary, trekkers can spend a few days in the community whilst staying in local tea houses and volunteering in the local schools and Buddhist teaching monasteries. The classes that they help with are tailored to their own skills. Often, assisting in English classes is very well received, as is with sports and music classes.
Student and youth groups have previously undertaken to fundraise for and then provide labour for construction-type projects such as building of school/clinic buildings, repair and construction of the essential path network, installation of a header tank and pipe & tap network for clean drinking water, installation of the piping and tanks for the hydro-electric project etc.
Thanks to this closer interaction, many clients stay in close contact with the company and NGO and often return to travel with us in the future, either in different destinations or sometimes back to the same area. There is no doubt that this aspect is greatly enhanced by the close relationship that they felt when visiting the communities. Through this level of community engagement we believe we are able to offer clients a genuine and deep ‘experience’ as opposed to just a holiday.
Adventure Alternative is a registered adventure travel company based in the UK. Over its 15 year history the company has built up a strong presence in providing engaging trekking, mountaineering, wilderness and international development expeditions. Central to its principles is a fair and responsible ethic towards the host communities to which we travel. To this end, the UK company has helped set up and support locally-owned and run in-country operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Borneo and Russia. The company also actively supports and partners with the international development NGO network, The Moving Mountains Trust.