Improvements in technology, transportation and middle-class wages have opened the door for people to travel further than before, and niche industries have also flourished to cater to specific interests. The rapid development of this industry has, however, left sustainability behind.
Sustainable Tourism's infinite potential
We are now raising to catch up to public demand for travel opportunities while changing the way we think about the local people affected by an influx of tourists. The UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) has reported that for $100 of tourism money spent worldwide, only $5 remains in local economics.
Sustainable tourism policies, according to the UN, hope to implement and support practices that are economically, socially and environmentally friendly to the locals. When tourism is done well, it can provide great opportunities for ongoing development, the creation of jobs, mutual cultural exchange and the opening of trade and business partnerships.
How can we ensure that the growth in the global tourism industry is a force for good? Like any market trends, a shift in mindset is required. Awareness is key. If people choose more sustainable tour operators the demand will grow and more companies will and emulate responsible tourism practices.
At Hands on Development Tours and through Seven Women, we see tourism as an opportunity to uplift — providing mutual gain.
We partner with both smaller tour companies with similar values and larger companies such as Urban Adventures, who bring people to our Seven Women school for our cooking classes, lessons in basic Nepali and fair-trade product- making workshops. All these activities support social empowerment and sustainable growth in the local economy.
Seven Women’s cooking school is an example of this ethos in action, pairing local women with ready-to-learn- foreigners to gain a true appreciation for the Nepalese way of life, contributing to the local economy at the same time as engaging tourists in learning about the local environment with the local people.
At the same time, we cap our group numbers to minimise our impact on the environment and cultural heritage sights. Ultimately, operating with this ethos ensures the benefits of tourism remain with the local people.