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responsible travel

Tourism: an industry update

Tourism: an industry update


State of the industry

The global tourism industry has the potential to massively aid the cause of sustainable and inclusive economic development around the world. Tourism is the world’s third largest employer, sustaining twice as many jobs as the financial sector and accounting for 10% of global GDP. Tourism has also managed to consistently outperform the global economic growth rate for the last few years. 

The tourism industry is also unique in the type of people that it employs. Tourism is the largest industry in many developing countries and is almost twice as likely to employ women than other industries. Because of their low-skilled nature, tourism jobs also serve as a great provider of opportunities to marginalised communities. 

Tourists are attracted to a country because of its natural beauty and unique culture. However, these pulling factors are often tainted by global corporations and their all-inclusive resort franchises.These corporate giants often take advantage of local communities and capitalise on cheap labor costs. Sustainable tourism has the ability to help developing countries avoid debilitating ‘races to the bottom’ where conditions and wages are driven down in order to attract big corporations.

Trends and challenges going forward

In 2017, the UN recognised 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, recognising the potential of tourism to eradicate poverty, empower disadvantaged groups and minimise adverse impacts on the environment. However, for this to occur, sustainable tourism practices must be embraced. The good news is that the trends lines show that tourism is becoming increasingly sustainable. 

AIG Travel’s 2017 Pulse poll found that 78% of respondents viewed sustainable tourism as important, a massive 26% increase from the previous year as awareness of the industry’s huge potential spreads.

This development has been noted by Lonely Planet, who reported that sustainable tourism will become a ‘top industry trend.’ Not only do sustainable travellers leave a lighter impact on the environment and local culture, but they also spend about 61% more than the average tourist. 

However, despite the positive trends, the tourism industry has no shortage of challenges as it attempts to transition to a more sustainable model. Overcrowding continues to be a challenge for many destinations. Moreover, only 5% of the money spent by tourists actually remains in local economies. As an industry, tourism remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels and will have to undertake significant adjustments as the global economy transitions towards renewable energy. 

Your role

Although governments and tourism operators have a huge responsibility, tourists have a vital role to play in the transition to a more sustainable tourism industry. With the internet at their disposal, tourists have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that the companies they travel with hire local, buy local and have a limited impact on the environment.

If tourists chose the right companies, demand for sustainable tourism practices will increase, thereby encouraging other companies to embrace a more sustainable model.

Tourism has the potential to be a massive force for good, but it is up to us all to ensure that the transitional to responsible, sustainable tourism actually occurs.

Travel and support a more peaceful world

Travel and support a more peaceful world

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At its core, the sixteenth Sustainable Development Goal aims to reduce all forms of human exploitation and achieve a more peaceful, just and better-governed world. 

The challenges facing Nepal 

Despite having successfully emerging from the Civil War which plagued the country for a decade between 1996 to 2006, Nepal still struggles with human security issues. In the past few years, Nepal has faced a host of issues including civil unrest, human trafficking, separatism, crime and of course, natural disasters. 

A range of groups such as Dalits, women, the disabled and above all disabled women, continue to face discrimination and human rights violations. As victims of 'double discrimination,' disabled women are often denied basic rights such as access to healthcare, education and employment.

Our Impact 

Recognising that intercultural dialogue and understanding will lay the foundations of a more peaceful world, Hands on Development's tours are immersive and focus on facilitating cultural exchange. Participants have the opportunity to learn about Nepali language, culture and history while also having the chance to share their own skills, culture and perspectives with locals. 

Moreover, Hands on Development partners with a number of organisations who tackle Nepal's social and human security issues head-on. One such organisation is Maiti Nepal, an NGO who is at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking. 

Finally, we contribute to building a safer and more just Nepal by facilitating the employment of disabled and marginalised women. For example, we employ women from our partner-organisation, Seven Women, to teach tour participants Nepali language, cooking and handcraft skills. 

Holiday while supporting gender equality

Holiday while supporting gender equality

Globally, gender inequality remains one of the biggest developmental challenges of our time. Despite being the key to sustainable development, not one single country has achieved full gender equality. The problem is worse in developing countries such as Nepal: women often have to fight for basic issues such as health services, education and freedom. Yet, they are often invisible and overlooked. As a tourist, is it possible to help?


Gender inequality in Nepal

Nepal is a deeply patriarchal society and was ranked 110th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Equality Index rankings in 2017. Although Nepal has made some strides forward in recent years — such as instituting quotas which reserve seats in parliament for women — norms that discriminate against women persist at the social level.  

Girls are often denied access to adequate education — particularly in rural areas where poorer families struggle to afford education — because of the view that the women should work in the home. Accordingly, it is no surprise that because of these normative and economic barriers, women’s participation in the paid labour force hovers at around 30%. 

Because of the social stigma surrounding disability in Nepal, disabled Nepali women are victims of ‘double discrimination.' They are vulnerable but they do not have much support. They are more prone to abuse but these women are often denied services that are provided to disabled males. 

Hands on Development: Making a difference

As a tourist, you can help make Nepal a better place for women, all whilst enjoying an exciting and culturally enriching holiday. Hands on Development directly supports gender equality by supporting and facilitating the employment and vocational training of local women — many of whom would otherwise have been denied these opportunities because of their gender and/or disability. 

Profits from the cooking classes attended by tour participants directly supports training local women in hospitality skills, allowing them to break into a male-dominated industry. Through their economic empowerment, women become role models within their community, thereby challenging patriarchal norms. 

Gender inequality is not inevitable. By travelling responsibly with organisations like Hands on Development you can make a tangible difference by directly empowering marginalised women. 

A challenging opportunity

A challenging opportunity


The growth in international tourism provides an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful cultural exchange and economic development. However, if left unchecked, tourism can have adverse effects which detract from its positive potential. A paradigm shift towards responsible tourism is needed to best harness travel’s transformative ability. 

The numbers…

A quick look at the numbers illustrates just how massive the global tourism industry — and its growth potential — truly are. In 2017, tourist arrivals increased by 7% globally and are projected to rise by 4-5% throughout 2018. Moreover, tourism is currently the world’s fastest growing economic sector. 

Given these stats, it is not surprising that travel and tourism indirectly or directly supports at least 313 million jobs globally. As travel becomes even more affordable and the global middle class continues to expand over the next ten years, 100 million more jobs will be created.   

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The challenge

Of course, a surge in tourist numbers is not without its drawbacks. Mass tourism has the potential to cause environmental damage, ruin local cultures and sights as well as pushing up prices and creating economies centred around seasonal, low-paying jobs. 

Startlingly, despite these damaging impacts, only 5% of the money spent by tourists actually ends up staying in local economies. The tourism industry must also find a way to adapt to climate change. 

The solution

Fortunately, around the world, interest is growing in sustainable and responsible tourism — which focuses on minimising tourism’s footprint while also maximising economic benefits for locals. Responsible tourism also provides the basis for more meaningful experiences by emphasising genuine cross-cultural interactions.

Hands on Development — and its partner organisation Seven Women — are part of a global movement which seeks to truly transform tourism into a force for good. Profits from tours helps fund the training and employment of disadvantaged Nepali women, thereby ensuring that local communities tangibly benefit from tourism. Tour goers also have the opportunity to learn about Nepali cooking, crafts and language, while broadening their perspectives on a variety of global issues.

If you want to create positive global change, choose Hands On for your next holiday!



Culture, natural beauty and people : Why you should holiday in Nepal

Culture, natural beauty and people : Why you should holiday in Nepal

Ranking fifth on Lonely Planet’s countries that ‘you cannot afford to miss’ list, Nepal is one of the hottest destinations on earth. With its colourful sights, vibrant culture and charismatic people, Nepal does have a lot to offer. So what is the best way to take in this unique and beautiful country? 

Sights galore

Despite having been a tourist destination for years, when visiting Nepal, one still has the opportunity to experience a culture and people relatively untouched by mass tourism. Nepal is also one of the rare places where you can experience sublime natural and cultural beauty all in the one spot. National parks filled with tigers, famous mountain peaks and trekking areas are all in reach of ancient temples and cities. 

Wedged between the continental mammoths, China and India, Nepal’s unique Hindu-Buddhist culture has been shaped by centuries of complex cultural exchange. Regional and indigenous cultures further enrich one of the most diverse and multicultural societies on earth. 



Why go now

There is no time like the present when it comes to visiting Nepal. The landlocked Himalayan nation has just emerged from some of the most turbulent times in its recent history. From 1996 to 2006, Nepal was embroiled in a civil war pitting the government against Maoist rebels. 

Then in 2015, Nepal was rocked by a devastating earthquake which killed over 9,000 people as well as destroying infrastructure and ancient temples. 

Yet, the ever resilient Nepalese people have bounced back. Although the rebuilding process has been slow, 2018 has seen a surge in reconstruction. Nepal’s first elections in twenty years — held in late 2017 under the new Constitution — hopefully heralds an era of much needed political stability. 

Immerse yourself

An immersive tour offers not only culturally authentic experience, but also a chance to help local communities. A Hands on Development tour offers you the chance to interact with and learn from locals, all whilst taking in Nepal’s incredible sights. You get to experience the very best of what Nepal has to offer, from the temples of Kathmandu to the remote beauty of Sudal village. What’s more, you will have the chance to learn about Nepali culture through craft, cooking and language classes. Most importantly, the profits from these classes help fund the training and employment of marginalised women

Interested in authentic Nepali experience that support local communities? Discover Hands on Development's tours.


Eliminating poverty whilst travelling

Eliminating poverty whilst travelling

While tourism has a huge potential to lift entire populations out of poverty, currently only 5% of the revenue from tourism stays within local communities. Solely profit-driven tourism can also have adverse impacts on local communities. Through travelling with Hands on Development, you can ensure that you travel responsibly and help reduce poverty in Nepal.

What is Responsible Tourism?

In short, responsible tourism minimises the negative effects of unsustainable travel while creating economic benefits for local people and facilitating meaningful cultural exchanges. For obvious reasons, responsible tourism therefore has the ability to support the realisation of the first SDG, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 — with a particular focus on supporting marginalised groups such as women and the disabled. 


How you can make a difference

So how can you travel responsibly while supporting the SDGs? Hands on Development run ethical tours to Nepal with a particular focus on social, financial and environmental sustainability. By going on a tour with Hands on Development, you can directly help economically empower marginalised communities in Nepal. 

Specifically, Hands on Development employs local women as tour guides, allowing them to achieve financial independence. As part of the tour, participants will engage in genuine cultural exchanges by participating in Nepali, craft and cooking classes. In turn, the profits from these classes help to fund the training and employment pathways of disabled and marginalised women who are often denied the opportunity to work. The tour also visits and directly supports various local enterprises, such as the craft business run out of Seven Women’s headquarters in Kathmandu.

So, next time you’re looking to get away, holiday with a difference and directly support poverty reduction by choosing to travel with Hands on Development!