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Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail: An Initiative towards Responsible Tourism

Nepal Environment and Tourism Initiative Foundation (NETIF) is a non profit, Non-Governmental developmental organization. It aims at contributing the socially responsible, ecologically friendly and economically viable tourism management for the development in Nepal, by developing a model Trekking trail. It was founded in 2006 by a group of dedicated environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs.

NETIF has been developing Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (KVCT) since the beginning of 2008. The trail starts from Sundarijal via Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park and ends at Panauti. The area covers Municipalities and 16 VDCs of Kathmandu, Bhaktpur and Kavre districts. The major areas of intervention made by NETIF in Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking trails are awareness raising and local Institutional development, small scale community infrastructure, local capacity development ,conservation and alternative energy, networking communication and alliance building, research and survey. Almost all the activities were directed towards mitigating the problems such as pollution, energy conservation, waste management, natural resource conservation, addressing the needs of communities as well as tourists. NETIF has been addressing the issues of responsible tourism in following way.

Pollution and Waste Management
NETIF has already completed more than 10 awareness and cleanup campaigns throughout the trails. It has placed more than 300 waste bins, 8 incinerators and 4 garbage management fund in the trails. Further it has also trained people and advocated in the waste management in the trekking trails in various forums.

Energy and Conservation Issues
NETIF partially supported in the instillation of 35 fuel efficient stoves and a wind turbine in the trail. In addition to it, it has also trained community in organic farming, and waste management and planted more than 5000 plants throughout the trail. In near future it has a plan to introduce high value crops and establishment of green belts along the trail.

Community and Social Involvement
There is an active involvement of local community in the activity implementations. For example Garbage Management Fund is managed by the local communities and even they have their partial contribution in it. In addition to it, local skills and expertise have been mobilized while constructing the infrastructure and in the mean time, local employment has been increasing through the transportation of construction materials to the trail. The local people's capacity has been enhanced through the trainings such as small hotel and lodge management, mushroom and off seasonal vegetable cultivation, local guide training, folk dance and live presentation, corn husk training, basic vegetable farming etc. Most of the skilled people in the trail include women and marginalized ethnic groups of the village.

Natural Resource Conservation
NETIF's activities are also directed towards conservation of natural resources. For example metal poles were used in the construction of incinerators and tourists shelters instead of wooden poles. The waste wood was reused to make signage and information boards and are placed along the trail. More than, 200 conservation of natural resources awareness boards are placed along the trails. A simple guideline for tourist has been developed and placed along the trail. In the future NETIF will make survey on visitors flow and carrying capacity of the trail and prepare a guideline for the operation of green hotels along the trails.

Addressing the needs of local people and the Tourists
For NETIF, local communities have always the entry point for any activities in any geographical area. Their active participation and backup support from various stakeholders is necessary for the sustainability of the trail. Therefore NETIF has constructed 2 multipurpose community centers provided small tourism business development trainings such as vegetable farming, lodge management etc. to address the needs of local community. NETIF's activities have also addressed the needs of the trekkers travelling in the area. It has constructed 4 tourist shelters, 1 public toilet and 1 entrance gate. The trekking trail has been upgraded and marked, brochures, maps and hoarding boards have been published to address the need of the tourists.

Health and Awareness
NETIF has been sensitive towards the health and awareness of visitors and host communities. It has developed brochures and information boards that create awareness among the tourists' health and security in the trekking trails. The brochures educates tourists what to do, what not to do, what to carry what to eat, about the drinking in the trails. Likewise, in future it has a plan to promote volunteerism and internship program in health sector in the communities touched by the trekking trail.

NETIF's Procurement Policy
NETIF has been using recyclable office materials. Its letterhead is made from handmade Nepali paper. NETIF is in process of developing its procurement policies, where the purchase goods and services will be avoided from the firm where there is child labor, and that use hazardous chemicals that increase risks on human health and environment.

NETIF will continue to implement its activities in the year 2010 in the active participation with all the stakeholders of tourism development of Nepal. The project activities will be primarily focused on local capacity development, preservation of cultural and natural heritage, encouraging tourism entrepreneurs and corporate houses to practice responsible tourism, mobilization of school going children in the trekking trail for environment awareness, internship program for University students and further initiation of programs in tourism, environment and climate change. So it is worthwhile to say that NETIF's activities are initiatives towards responsible tourism in Nepal.


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