Accessible Himalayas

Interaction on Possibility of Accessible Tourism in Nepal


May 22, 2014

Kathmandu May 22 Tourism is not a new word for Nepal but “Accessible and Inclusive Tourism” is new word for Nepali tourism sector. In Nepal we talk about tourism and many tourists visit Nepal every year from around the globe. Nepali people have good sense of hospitality “Athithi Devo Bhawa” is our culture that mean visitors are god .But still we are excluding some “God” who have disabilities and want to visit Nepal. Today at Soaltee Crown Plaza US Embassy and Four Season Travel organised an interaction program with Dr. Scott Rains, policy makers and stake holders first time in Nepal.

In 2009 Dr. Scott Rains was selected as Person of the Years in the US by New Mobility magazine is well know writer on travel and issues in the tourism industry of interest to people with disabilities. His work appears online at www.RollingRains.com. He is the founder of the global forum on Inclusive Tourism – Tour Watch. Recently he was a Benetech Fellow at the Bookshare initiative for print-disabled readers. For his research on the topic of Universal Design and the travel and hospitality industry he was appointed as Resident Scholar at the Center for Cultural Studies of the University of California Santa Cruz (2004-05). Rains has been

Dr Scott Rain interacting with policy makers and stake holders first time in Nepal organised by US Embassy and Four Season Travel

Dr Scott Rain interacting with policy makers and stake holders first time in Nepal organised by US Embassy and Four Season Travel
Retained as a consultant on Inclusive Tourism at the invitation of India, Australia, Italy, Barbados, Thailand, Thailand, Georgia, and South Africa. He is a lifetime Honorary Member of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and a resource person to UNESCAP.

Though exact date and history of tourist incoming to Nepal is still unknown, it can be assumed that first tourist started coming to Nepal only after first road system was built in 1950 that connect some of the Nepal’s cities with Indian boarder in the south. Since then international tourists flow to explore Nepal’s rich cultures, picturesque Himalayan landscape.However it was on In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first conquered Mt. Everest (8848 m).Few people with Disability have climbed Mount Everest or reached in base camp.Tourism act came in regulation since 1978. Since 70′s Nepal became safe tourism destination for those groups due to its perfect climate, peaceful place and unique cultures. Many reasons had attracted these groups for traveling like spiritual enlightenment escape from wars in the west and rigid lifestyles, some for business or still some just wanted to explore and see the world. They were simply great adventure lovers and were known as Hippies of 70′s.These group of people were known as Hippies or freak. In some way or the other they have great contribution of introducing Nepal as one of the best travel destination.

We have laws for accessibility but we lack for implementation. Even five star hotels are not disability friendly .Only making ramps is not sufficient. Ramp should meet certain criteria, toilets and rooms should be accessible .Every stakeholders says we are making and try to make it but many things are lacking in the name of budget and idea. Everybody knows that every design should

Participant of the program discussing possibility of Accessible Tourism in Nepal
Participant of the program discussing possibility of Accessible Tourism in Nepal

be made according to Universal Design guideline but it is neglected. We lack data of people with disability (PWD) who visited Nepal. Ministery of Tourism and other stake holder never thought about accessible tourism. Still we have a concept that People with disability can’t afford for tourism and the main barrier is in our visions .We have world heritage site, cultures, picturesque Himalayan landscape but we don’t have accessible structure even inside the Kathmandu valley.

Dr Rains says “Nepal is once in Life time trip, everybody who hears about Nepal wants to visit but still they can’t travel with dignity. Construction is there but we (PWD) are always outside of the site.” We have some legislation and guideline for accessibility infrastructure and communication, we have regulatory body too but they are fail to regulate and we don’t have such laws to give punishment who violet the accessibility guideline. Everybody who makes policies wants regulate the law but simple excuses always fails to implement that laws .People with disability faces many barrier in their way, home and society, public vehicle and newly design road of Kathmandu don’t have proper footpaths. Nepal still doesn’t have proper Personal Assistance services.

This interaction program will be fruitful to all the stake holders, we are now thinking about our Accessible Tourism, data says people with disability spends more which is a profitable business too participant agreed .In this interaction stake holder share their ideas and got idea by Dr.Rains. Mr Sushil Ghimre Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation shared his past experience and future work for accessibility. Deputy Secretary Department of Women and Children Huum Kala Pandey suggested the 6A package .Package contain Assets (our Heritage sites, Natural beauty and culture), Accessible (we have to make them), Amenities(facility of easy and accessible communication ),Accessories (How we can provide Accessible Tourism in sector like trekking ,sightseeing etc), Acts ( We have some Accessible related laws and we need to make more laws related to Accessible tourism) and finally Association ( Our Association who are working in tourism sector should know every things related to Accessible tourism and provide facility according to their needs). Inter action was facilitate by Ms. Susan Parker-Burns, Public Affairs Officer from US Embassy, Kathmandu.