Interview with Pramod Khakurel, published on the web page of www.tourisme-durable.org.
Nepal in search of a sustainable tourism
INTERVIEW. Small area of over 147,000 km ², Nepal attracts more and more travelers. In 1962 there were 6,179 tourists how traversed the mountains of Nepal. Thirty years later, in 1996 the country hosted nearly 400,000 visitors each year. Pramod Kakhurel, Director of Mandap Travels in Kathmandu, a travel agency involved in sustainable development, agreed to answer our questions.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism: Describe yourself in a few lines …
Pramod Kakhurel : I was born in 1969 in a village northwest of the Kathmandu Valley, in a traditional Hindu family. I had access to education, both traditional and modern institutions democratized access to all of the teachings. Understanding of different cultures is a subject that has always whetted my curiosity, I went to finish my studies in France.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism : How did the agency Mandap Travels?
Pramod Kakhurel : The travel agency Nepal Mandap Travels was the culmination of a long thought when I was studying anthropology at University of Paris X, Nanterre. During my research, I spent much time with the various communities and have been impressed by their expertise, their relationship with the environment, their philosophy of life that aspires to human exchanges and peace. Back in Nepal in 2007, I bought Mandap Travels in existence since 1991, I have restructured with the help of Pascal Duclos, a French friend who was defending the ideas of sustainable and equitable tourism. Saru Khakurel recently joined our team. Born in Nepal in 1978, she was trained in management in France
Journal of Sustainable Tourism : What are the main objectives of Mandap Travels?
Pramod Kakhurel : The first objective of Mandap Travels is to provide more sustainable routes. Then we want to ensure that all visitors who travel with us know the main principles of responsible tourism. Hoping to convince them of the merits of the action taken by the responsible agencies like ours …
Journal of Sustainable Tourism : In Nepal, it means responsible tourism?
Pramod Kakhurel : Responsible tourism is understood by the Nepalese actors working to: minimize the impact on the environment, respect the people visited and culture, encourage contact between visitors and visited the people, give adequate remuneration and equitable actors, encourage the preservation of biodiversity and respect for local cultures, informing all stakeholders about responsible tourism and encourage sustainable development practices in the sector …
Journal of Sustainable Tourism : Who are your main clients? How customer sensitive is your commitment to sustainable development?
Pramod Kakhurel : The main customers of Mandap Travels are francophone, managers and retirees. They are all sensitive to the arguments of sustainable tourism: attention to pollution, not to use too much water, eat as much as possible local produce to reduce CO2 emission, decent wages to employees; etc. And one important point is the meeting and exchange with local people and culture. This last point is well appreciated by all clients because, as the spirit of the circuits Mandap Travels, is the understanding of otherness and respect for others, anyone traveling with Mandap Travels have this experience interact with the local population.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism : How Does Nepal on responsible tourism? Is there a branch network? Certifications?
Pramod Kakhurel : principles such as fair tourism, eco tourism, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, ethical tourism (etc.) are well integrated by travel agencies in Nepal.
However, industry players do not all have a clear understanding of the interaction between different aspects of tourism (human values, preservation of natural diversity and heritage, equity and ethics etc.) and the concept of responsible tourism seems not to be understood by all in the same way, some appear to have used the concept of sustainability as a communication tool. Although different networks are created as, Sustainable Tourism Network (STN) , Village Tourism Promotion Forum Nepal (VITOF-Nepal) , etc.., the principle of responsible tourism is spreading slowly in the area. In addition, many actors, Socialtours, Dream Nepal , Mandap Travels, Hotel Kantipur Temple House, Tiger Tops Group, Kathmandu Guest House Group , to name a few, have integrated into their practice elements of responsible tourism .
At the current state, there is no specific certification in Nepal. Actors refer to foreign certifications. However, some players began to develop their own specifications and a self-assessment to verify the regular application of the criteria of responsible tourism.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism: Some regions do they invest more to “play” the map of responsible tourism?
Pramod Kakhurel : All the principles of responsible tourism do not seem to be rigorously implemented in the sector. However, in regions of Trek (Annapurna, Langtang, Everest), these principles are applied. In their activity, the actors evoke ideas, such as a living wage for porters, limiting the weight of the carrier, using local products, minimizing the impact on the environment by controlling waste disposal in the nature, respect for heritage and local culture etc.. In large cities, these ideas have less impact.
Intervew conducted by Marie-Laure Le Clainche, volunteer editor-in ATD
Translated in English by Eric Fairman
You can read the french version of this interview on the following page : http://www.tourisme-durable.org/actualite/destinations-touristiques/1366-le-nepal-en-quete-dun-tourisme-durable.html