Ms. Chhaya Sharma
Nepal College of Travel & Tourism Management
Indigenous Tourism Panel
Presentation Abstract

Introduction : Global significance

At least 350 million people worldwide are considered to be indigenous ("indigenous ethnic minorities," "tribal groups" and/or "scheduled tribes"). The term "indigenous peoples" refers to the descendants of the original habitants of a region prior to colonization who have maintained some or all of their linguistic, cultural and organizational characteristics. Indigenous peoples have traditionally a very special relationship to the lands and natural resources of their habitat.

Indigenous Tourism – An Alternate to sustainability

Problem: In the wake of globalization and economic restructuring, many countries and communities are struggling to redefine and rebuild their economies. To reduce poverty and encourage economic and social development, many governments and international aid agencies have recognized the positive impact tourism development can bring to a country by creating economic opportunities and contributing to the general quality of life of residents. There is also a growing awareness that many countries and their communities have not achieved those social and economic objectives due to environmental degradation, social disruption, and rising costs to residents. Distressingly the poor often do not receive the benefit of tourism development.

Alternatives to mass tourism, eg Indigenous tourism, synonymous to cultural and eco tourism, can be influential in changing the nature of tourism. Therefore, development should be culture and resource specific.

Early tourism development has given little consideration to natural resource limitations, impacts on wildlife and indigenous cultures. The human environment and development has been largely ignored. Within the process of globalization local communities' participation and nature conservation are threatened and often overlooked.

The key, then, is to transform power relations so that local people are empowered to directly initiate and control the development of tourism in their communities.


In order for tourism to become a sustainable industry, countries, states, regions, and individuals must work with new ideas and initiatives of natural resource management, social inclusion of the marginalized, preservation and conservation of cultural heritage in its authentic forms.

If tourism is to be sustainable, it must improve the lives of local people, protect their environment, indigenous skills, and health and offer a better future. In many instances tourism can be seen as a vehicle to empower local communities and protect the environment through the development of new employment opportunities, the enhancement of local economies, preservation of indigenous knowledge and practices, public awareness and education.

Sustainable implications:

Increased employment and training opportunities for Indigenous community who wish to be involved in tourism.

Possible links with other sustainable tourism enterprises, such as nature-based tourism and eco-tourism, providing the Indigenous perspective which is vitally important.

Successful implications:

environment friendly tourism in rural areas,

protection of ecosystems and biological diversity,

preservation of natural landscapes, cultural and historical heritage,

rational use of natural resources,

prevention and control of environment pollution and disturbance

control of the negative environmental impact, improved life quality, improvement of the local communities.

Overview of why Nepal should adopt ‘Indigenous Tourism’

Nepal has not less than 60 ethnic groups, which form 37.2% of the total population.11 major languages, 70 dialects’ and two major religions.

The process of disempowerment of indigenous people began with the incorporation of small principalities into larger unification of the kingdom of Nepal. The process of cultural homogenization and monolingualism resulted in numerous losses of cultural diversity.

Nepal has been in the midst of an insurgency since, February 13,1996 which began from Rolpa and Rukkum, situated in the mid western region, which has been hardest hit with poverty, unemployment, and development.


Case Studies.

· Sirubari IndigenoousGurung village in Pokhara district

· Indigenous Chepang village


Gender perspective:

Women comprise of 50.05 percent of the total population(23,151,423) of Nepal. Eighty Seven percent of these women live in the rural areas. In comparison to men, more women live in the rural areas. Women have always been underprivileged, poor, helpless, excluded and powerless.



Emphasis should be given to the development of sustainable/indigenous tourism, to enhance livelihood, improve living standards, ensure community involvement and safeguard local culture and tradition, and make the community direct beneficiary of certain percentage of the revenue generated. Thus contributing to poverty alleviation, raised living standard, harmony and peace among the community.