Environmental aspects of tourism in Pokhara
1. Understanding environment and tourism
For any holiday planner, the environment of interested tourist destination becomes a matter of basic concern. At the beginning, a traveler gathers information about the physical environment (climate, altitude, and geographical location) of his holiday destination. Then, he or she will be engaged on searching and making analysis of corporate, social, and political environment-whether the region is peaceful or is a conflict zone. That is why tourism and environment are closely associated with one another. Various research articles, journals, magazines, books and newspaper reports are published with different views concerning the requirement of appropriate environment in the tourism destination.
In this age of globalization, attractive destinations deserve universal significance for the tourists. Pokhara and its very surrounding area, Annapurna trekking region of central Nepal, have undoubtedly succeeded to include in such lists of attractive tourist destinations. However, a big question has emerged as how the environmental beauty of Pokhara can be preserved for long term against the growing environmental pollution that this exotic city has been facing due to the continuous migration of people from the western surrounding area. The rapid increment of the migrated population and the accelerating constructions are not only deteriorating the natural beauty but also disturbing and contaminating the peaceful environment of this city which was labeled as ‘exotic’ and ‘paradise’. Similarly, the tranquility and natural beauty of Fewa Lake have also approached to a risky moment due to human encroachments and the lack of proper conservation. Though a dozens of Non-GovernmentOrganisations (NGOs) and local committees are found working at the community level to protect Fewa Lake, there is no indication of success. In this context, this chapter first explores the interface of complex relationships between tourism and environment in Pokhara. In milieu of the various environmental degrading factors that have made negative impacts on the sustainability of tourism in Pokhara, it recommends some damage-preventing plans of action, which concerned agencies should implement responsibly in order to bring pro-environmental consciousness among the people as well as stopping further environmental damages in Pokhara. This chapter is writtern on the basis of the review of various published and unpublished literature, observation of some specific sites and relevant interaction with tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara and its surrounding.
2. environmental beauty of Pokhara amidst the interrelationship of tourism and environment
Available documents reflect that there is not a very long history that the writers have published articles and books raising the concern of environment regarding this Pokhara city. However, some of the authors, DevendraBahadurLamichhane, BishoKalyanParajuli, Krishna KC and K.BParajuli have already done some researches and have published their outcome to prevent Pokhara from environmental pollution. Similarly, the great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota has expressed his environmental concern by composing a poem about ‘Pokhara’. The poet presents the blooming beauty of Machhapuchhre in the tranquil Lake Fewa. Devkota even a few decades before predicted that Pokhara in future would be the famous tourist spot. He meditates, “This earth paradise will be an interesting tourist destination in the world” (Devkota 2004). He has praised nature as a paradise and Pokhara as one of the major tourist destinations of the world. He argues that the only truth is the truth of environmental consciousness that connects the soil, air, the mountains, and the humanity.
Regarding the interaction that exists between tourism and the environment, Andrew Holden argues that it is necessary to understand the complexity of tourism. It is in fact a product of a variety of interacting factors in our home environment. Nature conservation and tourism in the contemporary sense date from the first half of the nineteenth century and, to a large extent, have developed parallel to one another (Holden 2008). It shows that the concept of tourism is complex and reveals heterogeneous factors associated with environment. Tourism development commonly has been advocated as an alternative to traditional natural resource-based economic development, such as timber production, agriculture, mining, etc. Recently, many advocated of tourism have promoted seemingly new environmentally friendly tourism concepts, such as nature-based tourism, ecotourism, and sustainable tourism, among others. (Kline 2001). In this context, sustainable tourism is a derivative of the more general concept of sustainable development brought to prominence with the publication of “our common future”; the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WECD 1987). The term Sustainable Development came into appearance just after the release of Brundtland Report 1987 (Bhatta 2006). Sustainable tourism is tourism attempting to make as low impact on the environment and local culture as possible, while helping to generate future employment for local people.
Transport by air, road, and rail is continuously increasing in response to the rising number reported that the number of international air passengers worldwide rose from 88 million in 1972 to 344 million in 1994, and in 2011 the figure is observed 980 million (UNWTO 2012). One of the consequences of this rapid increase in air transport is that tourism now accounts for more than 60 percent of air travel, and is therefore responsible for an important share of air emissions. According to Hillman (1996), it is estimated that a single transatlantic return flight emits almost half the CO2 emissions produced by all other sources (lighting, heating, and car use) consumed by an average person yearly.
With an area of 1,47,181, sq km, Nepal has diverse climatic zone ranging from tropical to arctic. This has enriched Nepal with diverse flora and fauna across a distance of 120 km (Kunwar 2010). Eighty three percent of the total land is covered by high mountains and undulating hills while rest of the 17 percent by alluvial lands of Terai in Nepal (Bhatta 2006). The blending of the unique natural and cultural attractions is in fact the world-class primary tourist attractions which are second to none in the international tourism market. The abundance of spectacular tourism resources amidst the large population of poor people residing in rural and remote areas has positioned Nepal to go for ecotourism with pro-poor thrust.
3. Positioning the subject matter of environmental challenges in Pokhara
Before opening the issues of environmental challenges in Pokhara, having some ideas to identify its geographical setting, information of tourist arrival statistics and population at district and national level will certainly be fruitful. Nepal recently celebrated Nepal Tourism Year 2011 with ambitious target of welcoming one million visitors carrying the slogan of “Together for Tourism” but unfortunately only 736,215 visitors entered Nepal (MoTCA 2011). The delay in campaigning and ambitious target without proper planning and modus operandi has made the government’s extravagant project somewhat not completely successful in terms of achieving targets of international tourist arrivals. Out of a total of 1,000,000 targeted international arrivals, a total of 736,215 tourists arrived in Nepal in 2011. There were 545,221 arrivals by air and 190,994 arrivals by road. The growth by air observed 22.1 percent compare to the year 2010 (MoTCA 2011).
While discussing tourism in Nepal the name of Kaski district and its headquarter Pokhara come in front row. With Pokhara city, Annapurna Himalayan Range, Machhapuchhre, Ghandruk, Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) and Annapuran Circuit are just few names to identify this district. These are only a few famous images of Kaski. It has an area of 123 sq.km with 43 village Development Committees (VDCs), one sub-metropolitan city and one municipality. The total population of this district is 492,098 (CBS 2012). The northern part of the district slopes down from mount Machhapuchhre (6992 m), Annapurna I (8090 m), and Annapurna II (7937 m).
The major tourism sites of this district are Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City, Sarankot, Ghandruk, Ghorepani-Poonhill trek, Dhampus trek, Machhapuchre Model trek, and vulture restaurant at BhalawatSetibagar. Interestingly Kaski district is the first Open Defecation Free district of Nepal which also reflects its commitment towards healthy and clean environment. Some of the sites are discussed below along with their present tourism and environmental scenario.
Pokhara is one of the most rapidly growing cities and also the second most visited tourist place in Nepal. Because of its natural beauty with spectacular views of Annapurna Himalaya range and with Machhapuchhre peak standing very close by (only 28 km), it is a popular tourist destination (Oli 1996). Natural, the Pokhara valley is famous for te lakes (Fewa, Rupa, Begnas, etc), mountains (Machhapuchhre, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, etc), caves (ChameroGufa, MahendraGufa and GupteshwarMahadev cave), natural water Falls (e.g. Devis Fall), Hindu temples (TaalBarahi, Bindavashini, etc.), Buddhist Monasteries (MatepaniGompa, KarmadubgyaChoklorlingGompa, etc) Georges (Seti George), viewpoints (Sarangkot, Peace stupa, etc) and agro base village (Hemja).
According to the hotel entrepreneurs of Pokhara, more than 550,000 tourists visit Pokhara annually, of which around 300,000 are foreigners and remaining figure is domestic travelers (Pokhara 2012, p 8). Citing Republica’s news report S. pokhara argues that there is increase in tourist arrival to Pokhara in 2010 by 13.39 percent, as compared to the arrival figure of the previous year (Pokhrel 2011, p 6). Though Pokhara is welcoming domestic as well as international tourists at increasing level, this exotic city is also side by side facing immense pressure of environmental pollution. The major causes of pollution which harm tourist environment in Pokhara are problem of solid waste management, air pollution, noise pollution, and pollution at Fewa Lake.
3.1 Solid waste management
The population of Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City is 255,465 (CBS 2012). Compared to Kathmandu, environmental situation of Pokhara is better. Nevertheless, environmental pressure has increased in Pokhara especially along the built-up sites, river banks, eastern bank of Fewa Lake, and main market area between Bagar to Mahendra pool, Mahendra pool to PrithviChowk, Lake Side area and old Bus Park area (Parajuli 2000).
As per the report of Ministry of Local Development, Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City generates solid waste of 123.45 tons per day and the total municipal waste collection is 28.39 tons per day, which is based on the estimated population of 2008 (214,226). Average waste generation of the city is 0.42 kg per person per day. The total expenditure in solid waste management is NPR 831,293,369. Furthermore, there are 56 percent organic waste, 16.2 percent plastic, 8.9 percent paper and 16.5 percent inert waste. The existing waste collection services in the city are Door-to-Door service and daily Road pick-up services. To collect the waste, tractor trailer, tripper, rickshaw, and specific services (compactors) are used. There is a controlled sanitary landfill site 12 km away from the city in Bachhebuduwa Ward No.18 near the converging point of Seti river and PhusreKhola being used for 3 years (SWMRMC 2008). In 2003, the Asian Development Bank supported Pokhara Environmental Improvement Program to build a sanitary landfill site for the city as part of the Second Tourism Infrastructure Development Project (Touladhar et al. 2003). The landfill site is constructed for the municipal waste and fecal sludge discharge. There is Landfill Area, Treatment Area, Buffer zone, internal road, and other infrastructure and Composting Areas with the total area of 2000 ropani2. The treatment capacity is 75 cum per day of seepage and 40 cum per day of solid waste leach ate. There was a need for simple and cost effective system for treating the leach ate as well as the sludge produced by cleaning of septic tanks in the city. It was estimated that the city generated 12,000 m3 of sludge and 15600 m3 of municipal waste every year, all of which would be collected and brought to the site (Tuladhar et al. 2003).
Eighteen wards of Pokhara Sub Metropolitan City have annual expenditure on solid waste management of around 25 million rupees. Out of 18 wards, solid waste in ward No. 6 is to some extent managed by the private sector i.e., Pokhara Waste Management Private Ltd. In the remaining 17 wards Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City (PSMC) office itself manages the solid waste (Enayetullah 2011). PSMC has entered into a public-private-partnership (PPP) agreement with Yam COmposting for solid waste management of Wards 6 and 9. Yam Composting collects waste from 30 hotels and 25 households, and plastic from 200 households from Lake Side, a major tourist hub in Pokhara3.
The involvement of local clubs, ToleBikasSastha (Steet Development Committee) and AamaSamuha (mothers’ groups) are active in PSMC to reduce the solid waste problem. Some of those are GyanMargSwatantraMahilaSamuha (an NGO) established in 2001, which focuses on street sweeping and community cleanup campaigns, waste collection, transportation, composting, recycling, and land-filling. There as well are other NGOs named SamudaikSewa Kendra (Community Service Centre) and PrahariSewa Kendra (Police Service Centre) working on Tole clean up, installation of filter pond, and controlling the water hyacinth in Fewa Lake (SWMRMC 2008).
For the improvement of Pokhara’s environment the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology has included six projects: Public awareness and environment education; sanitation facilities improvement, sanitary landfill site, land use concept plan, storm water drainage improvement, and urban road improvement.
3.2 Air and noise pollution
The clean and fresh air is pleasant to all living beings and this is vital for the tourism industry. Pokhara is called a piece of heaven on earth thus it should maintain its beauty to attract more tourists in the days to come. Without neat and clean environment it is not possible. The terrible noise and smoke emission from the vehicles, and dusty road can have negative impact in tourism business. The Total Suspended Particle Concentration in Pokhara was 874.4 (ug/m3) and the PM10 concentration is 839.9 (CAI-Asia 2006).
Table 8.1 PM10 (ug/m3) and TSP (ug/m3) concentration in urban areas of Nepal
Source: CAI-Asia (2006)
Note: The values are 8-hour average concentrations.
The above table clearly demonstrates that the concentration of TSP is high in Pokhara which can have negative impact on tourism. According to Nepal Air Quality Descriptors for PM if PM is greater than 425 ug/m3in that case it is hazardous (MoEST 2005). So, it has been already late to think about it and to stop air pollution. A number of surveys have been conducted in different time periods to assess the impact of air pollution on this major industry. Findings of the Departing Visitors Survey conducted among 1,702 tourists between May and June 2001 by MARG Nepal indicate that the quality of air is the number one area where tourists feel improvement is essential (CAI-Asia 2006). The increasing air and noise pollution is accelerated by the dusty atmosphere and unhealthy smoke, gaseous, and displeasing noise generated by the automobiles. People in and around the Old Bus Park, PrithviChowk, Mahendrapool, Lake Side, and Bagar are encountering air and noise pollution created by automobiles and city crowd (Parajuli 2000). Similarly, the discos and pubs running till late night are also causing noise pollution at Lake Side though several times government bodies and local people have conducted awareness programs to make the city tourist-friendly.
Moreover, Pokhara airport which is one of the busiest airports in Nepal is located at wrong place because it is inside the city area. Frequent landing and takeoff has made huge noise pollution in the city. Generally, such airports are built away from the city centers in other countries. So, shifting of Pokhara airport to Chinedanda is essential though it has become a huge political discourse at national and international and international level. Above facts and figures reveal that if the condition goes on with no more improvements then the people in Pokhara are going to lose tourism business that will obviously affect their daily life as well as the main tourist hub will be faded.
3.3 Preserving Fewa Lake
The major source of tourism attraction of Pokhara is Fewa Lake which is intimately situated in the city. It is the second largest of Nepal with and areas of 4.4 sq.km. where boating and fishing have become the matters of attraction. Another striking feature is the harmony of mountains and Fewa Lake and the shortest distance to enjoy mountain views. There are 22 native species of fish in the lake. One of the delicacies served in the several restaurants in the town of Pokhara is the local fish from the lake (Aryal 2008). Despite the beauty of the lake, the environmental problem is rising in the lake because the pressure has increased along the bank on the eastern side as well as rough roads and poorly constructed houses have been built except on the land acquired by the government (Oli 1996). Oli has reported that the main reason for the pollution of Fewa Lake is solid waste disposal. The increase in the number of hotel construction, business firms and other urban activities in the southern and western part of the lake are the causes for the pollution of Fewa, and loss of biodiversity, and health hazards to the people. The degradation of water quality of the lake has made it unfit for recreational and aesthetic purpose too.
The poor sewage system in Pokhara and the sub-surface seepage from urban area has also polluted the lake. The nutrient load due to surface runoff from agricultural land has lead to eutrophication of the lake with proliferation of water hyacinth and algal bloom thereby increasing fish mortality and destroying Lake Ecosystem (Raya et al. 2008). The hotels and lodges running at the bank of the lake are also the causes for pollution. Most of the hotel waste is directly added to the lake and this waste is mostly organic waste which helps in accelerating the algal bloom and water hyacinth. This invasive plant has decreased the value of Fewa Lake thereby creating direct impact on tourism. Moreover, some hotels, restaurants, and lodges surrounding the lakes have been drawing water from Fewa Lake using motors. This activity must be stopped and the local government should be responsible to provide alternative solutions of water scarcity. It is quite important to develop a sustainable drainage system to avoid water and other types of pollutions coming to Fewa Lake. To avoid such hazards, a modern drainage should be built from Masbar to beyond Dam Side so that surface runoff from the city will be blocked from mixing into Fewa Lake.
The lack of coordination among the concerned parties and the negligence of the local people are some of the reasons for the worsening condition of the lake. The interesting thing to be noted is that there are over 26 different organisations registered in the name of keeping Fewa Lake safe and hundreds of other NGOs claim that they have programs to clean it. In the same vein, Fewa trust was also registered with a view to keep Fewa Lake neat clean, but none of these organisations could save Fewa from pollution and encroachment. The primary reason why these organisations have failed to protect Fewa Lake is their earning motive4. Therefore, been essential to involve United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for the protection of Fewa enlisting in the World Heritage Site.
The subject ‘lake’ is narrowly defined under existing legal provisions like Aquatic Animal Protection Act 1961 (amended first in 1999), Forest Act 1993 (amended in 2001), National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, Soil and Watershed Conservation Act 1982, Water Resources Act 1992, Electricity Act 1992, and Environment Protection Act 1996. Furthermore, Local Self Governance Act (1999) empowers local units like District Development Committee (DDCs), Village Development Committees (VDCs), Municipal authorities, and Metropolitan authorities towards conservation and sustainable development. Under this Act, promoting socio-economic development, natural resources management, and conservation become sole responsibility of these local bodies (Oli 1997). Therefore, it signifies that protection for all lakes have been essential in Nepal.
There is not only such dark side of the story, but also the positive part that can create optimistic vibes among the people in Pokhara. It was reported that for the conservation of the seven lakes in PSMC bicycle routes are proposed in the plan that will connect the seven lakes- Begnas, Rupa, Gunde, Khaste, Nureni, Dipang and Maidi. According to Bastola (2011), the project of NPR 350 million is targeted to be completed in five years. The coordination among different sectors like local people, hoteliers, and communities based organisations (CBOs), and municipality is indeed in conserving Fewa Lake and Promoting tourism in Pokhara. The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) can be the effective tool in managing the wastes that are disposed in the lake thereby creating the win-win scenario which is very important in sustainability of the lake. Fewa Environment Development Committee, Fewa Fish Entrepreneurs Committee and Fewa Boat Entrepreneurs are also working to clean the lake with financial support from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). They still require doing a lot. It will directly help in preserving environment and will add a new chapter for sustainable tourism. The utmost activity that will help in conserving the lake is awareness program. Until and unless the perception of the people about the lake doesn’t change, it is difficult to achieve the target of clean and pristine Fewa Lake.
4. Initiatives for environmental protection
Tourism business in Pokhara depends on the preservation of tourism assets, which should be taken care by hotel owners, local people, farmers, businessmen, government workers, political parties, CBOs, and NGOs, and the major stakeholders of tourism. They all should work in cooperation with each other to preserve the beauty of Pokhara. Ecotourism is also possible when all the stakeholders come together to promote tourism by preserving local culture and traditions along with upgrading socio-economic status of the people. The hotel entrepreneurs, one of the influential stakeholders, are directly related to the tourism field. They should carry out responsible tourism focusing on preserving environment along with promotion of tourism.
Some of the hotels in Pokhara are taking initiatives to practice ecotourism to some extent. For instance, Hotel Barahi has set the example in saving energy by using biogas plant where the feed for biogas is from the wastes generated from the hotel itself. Thus, the use of biogas plays significant role to minimize the waste disposal in landfill site. BiplobPoudel, Executive Director of Hotel Barahi, says “Due to Biogas Plant, our waste problem is solved. Furthermore, we can produce renewable energy out of waste”. The major input materials in the plant are human excreta and kitchen waste. The advantages of having biogas plant in the hotels and guest houses are easy disposal of kitchen and toilet waste, which helps to reduce the purchase of LequifiedPetrolium Gas (LPG) for cooking. This hotel has set a good example of responsibility towards the society and environment.
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge (TMPL) is also another example which has been promoting ecotourism through its activities. It verifies its commitment towards promoting tourism along with conserving the environment. It has set the responsible tourism policy that states “….TMPL fully supports and practices the group policy of environmentally responsible and sustainable conservation tourism. Protection and enhancement of the natural environment, the people and communities in which Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is privileged to operate are partners, stakeholders, and vital resources in our business”. The lodge has clearly stated the management of energy, waste, water, and chemicals to make the business more resource- based and take care of occupational hazard. From the perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), this lodge maintains the highest ethical and professional standards in the internal administration and accounting of the business. It runs the awareness program about responsible tourism and believes that the ultimate goal of responsible tourism- an enhanced and sustainable natural and social environment- can only be achieved effectively if all stakeholders are fully informed and are aware of the issues.
The lodge runs a ‘Sustainable Action Group’ forum three times a year of more frequently where any member of its staff is encouraged to participate and voice his or her ideas on how the company can become more sustainable. Guests are informed at welcome briefing about hotel’s initiatives to minimize fuel and water consumption, reduce waste, and use of chemicals. Guests are encouraged to provide feedback, comments, and suggestions which are considered by the Sustainable Action Group and recommended for the implementation if they are feasible and beneficial. Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge works closely with local partners, and national and international charities. It seeks to support community-based development and promotes environmental enhancement projects. Emphasis in all projects is given to ensure that the ownership is with the community. The lodge undertakes a range of biodiversity monitoring projects and supports various social development and welfare programs. Similarly, a number of hotels, guest house, lodge, and restaurants are offering low cost jar water instead of plastic bottle water providing refuel facilities. This campaign is rapidly increasing in tourist area because it is good opportunity for the tourists and reduces the use of plastics in the tourist area.
Another organization that always remains with the city in tourism development and environment protection is Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) established in 1955. Over the years, PCCI has become a dynamic and result oriented forum of trade, industry, tourism and environment including health, education, and infrastructure development in Kaski district. It procides services to SMEs: Management Training, Skill Development Training, programs for Women Entrepreneurs, Agro based training, Local Business Training, Awareness programs, Environment Protection, and Tourist Visit. In Awareness campaign, PCCI provides orientation on sanitation for public in different market areas. It also looks after the promotion of Tanahun as tourism destination. In environment protection, it runs programs such as Water Fountain Construction, Tree Plantation, and Green Belt Development, Bucket Distribution, and Sanitation and Cleaning Campaign. These aforementioned activities are directly linked to socio-economic development and promoting tourism in the area. Recently, PCCI has successfully organized ‘National Industrial Trade Fair 2069, Pokhara’ from 6th December 2012 to 16th December, 2012. This is also an effective medium to promote local goods and service that will help in promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in the region.
Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC) another umbrella organization is working for the welfare of tourism in Pokhara. It has been active in promoting tourism and maintaining the standards related to tourism in the town. A group of entrepreneurs coordinated by PTC approached local authority to help declare ‘No Vehicle Zone’ in a certain part of the main road at lakeside. PTC has claimed vehicles are the reasons for sound pollution and difficulties for tourists to walk on the streets because of the vehicular movement. Convinced by the idea, the local authority declared three kilometers of main road to be a ‘No Vehicle Zone’ for seven hours (15:00 pm to 22:00 pm) every Saturday. This decision came into effect from 9 January 2011 (Ghimire and Upreti 2011). This was a good initiative in reducing pollution in the tourist area. However, due to the lack of coordination among all the stakeholders and strong support from local government this campaign has paralyzed.
In a recent effort, PTC, the South Asia Regional Coordination Office of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South, and Kathmandu (KU) in association with 22 tourism and non-tourism related professional associations and organizations have formulated tourism ethical operation codes of conduct manual and CSR guideline for destination level for the tourism sector in Pokhara5. These manual and responsible tourism guideline documents were publicy disseminated through “Pokhara Tourism Declaration” program in April 2013. The process of these guidelines formulations have supported to gradual building of knowledge, awareness, learning, positive attitudinal changes, and mutual understanding on core problems (conflict-sensitive tourism) as rooted on the irresponsible tourism principles and practices in tourism industry in Pokhara. The responsible and sustainable tourism behaviros by both guests and hosts in tourism industry of Pokhara (Upadhayaya and Khatiwada 2012).
For improving the condition and leading the tourism industry towards sustainability, it is necessary for all the concerned agencies to work together and solve problems. The CSR is also playing major role in promoting eco-tourism participation of local people and private firms who carry out their responsibility towards society by conducting different programs with attractive slogans beneficial to tourism industry. For example, tree plantations, cleaning campaigns, awareness programs, and public demonstrations (rallies) at different times are conducted by PSMC, PCCI, Pokhara Waste Management Private Ltd, and few other environment-concerned intuitions.
Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) is the model of community conservation in Nepal. In 1986, ACAP was initially launched as an experiment towards an integrated approach in conservation and development. The goal of ACAP is to mitigate negative or undesirable environmental impacts through promotion of local guardianship and making tourism or other development activities responsive to the fragility of the area-generating and retaining tourism, and other sources of income in the local economy through skills development, increase in local production, and local entrepreneurship; promoting linkages between conservation, tourism, and local development through a proactive approach in planning, tourism revenue for local development, nature conservation and tourism development, and diversification of tourism products (ACAP 1996). For instance, Ghandruk is a model village for tourists in the trekking route not far from Pokhara valley (Shrestha 2009).
According to ACAP, the thriving tourism industry paved way for investment in hotels and other infrastructures and tourism figure rose from 5,000 in 1990 to 17,000 in 1999 (ACAP 2012). The main energy sources in Ghandrukare firewood, kerosene, LPG, and electricity. Solar heaters are commonly used by hotels for heating water which is seen as special service to tourists to generate income. Many hotels and restaurants have switched from using local stoves to low-watt electric cookers. Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) has promoted it6. So the use of solar heaters and the easy availability of other energy sources have decreased the dependency on firewood by the hoteliers. This has helped in promoting sustainable tourism in the area thereby creating a milestone in mountain tourism development in other regions of the country. The development of micro hydro power has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the use of firewood for lightning, and cooking. Micro hydro has also helped to uplift socio-economic condition of the local people.
5. Future vision
The natural harmony of Pokhara valley is the jewel not only for the people in the region, but also for the people around the world. Tourism destinations are international by nature in this age of globalization. The future of Pokhara depends on the protective activities and a higher level of consciousness among the people to create tourist-friendly environment and environment-friendly tourism. There should be a clear modus operandi for the preservation of the tourism assets and the environment. All the stakeholders should work together having clear and effective vision to make Pokhara Sub-Metropolitan City better and healthier.
The discussion of the issue from the perspective of tourism and the management of wastes of Fewa Lake signifies that corporate industry should take the responsibility. The relationship between tourism and environment is like flesh-nail relation. Any disturbance in one part directly harms the other aspects. Thus, it is necessary for the stakeholders to carry out their duty effectively in order to maintain the breath-taking beauty of Pokhara. For this purpose, the strong bonding among the hoteliers, local people, government agencies, CBOs, NGOs, entrepreneurs, and corporate houses should carry out different joint-venture programs, which will ultimately meet the norms of tourism and environment. Thus, the effective vision and implementation of the proposed program in time will help in achieving the expected results.
It is essential to increase the level of understanding, the norms and values of tourism, and environment which will not only help in economic development but also create a clean and healthy tourism in Pokhara. Some of the activities like management of hotel waste, cleaning of Fewa Lake, preserving the local culture and tradition, local cuisines, management, of traffic, control of air and noise pollution are necessary conditions to meet the vision of “clean and healthy Pokhara”. First of all, the awareness among the local people is essential and they should feel ownership of those assets upon which they take pride. The promotion of responsible tourism through awareness campaigns, joint venture programs, waste reduction, training, and capacity building will be helpful to improving the status quo of Pokhara.
Apart from Fewa Lake and Lake Side Area, Pokhara is also a valuable asset for nature, culture, and sports tourism. The blending beauty of Pokhara is no doubt Fewa Lake and mountain views. The management of Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake, promotion of local culture, adventure sports like paragliding, ultra-light flight, sky diving, base jumping, Zip Flyer, rock climbing, and cannoning are also important to flourish tourism business. The promotion of adventure sports in Pokhara is an extraordinary benefit of tourism industry in Nepal. Hence, all the organisations, NGOs related to environment as well as entrepreneurs require to focus on managing healthy atmosphere by coming together to fulfill the vision.
The main purpose of the terms ‘eco-tourism’, ‘ethical tourism’, ‘green tourism’, ‘responsible tourism’ or ‘pro-environment tourism’, is to preserve and utilize environment for sustainable tourism. The relation between tourism and environment is very intimate. Environment is affected by tourism and in the long run, tourism depends on the quality of environment. Indeed, the quality of environment is frequently the primary attraction for tourists. The concern in environment and tourism can lead to the sustainability of tourism. Ecotourism provides first hand encounter with the natural environment without disturbing local culture and involving local people in the tourism business.
Pokhara, with the increase in tourist flow by 13.4 percent in 2010 (excluding Indian tourists), should maintain its glory by linking tourism and environment. For this there should be effective coordination among different parties relying directly or indirectly on tourism. They should work together to make the “City of Lakes” better. The proper management of waste, energy, and water is very crucial to make the city clean and healthy. For this purpose different organization, CBOs, government bodies, individuals, and hotels should contribute more to establish further models of eco concepts by profession in the days to come. For instance, to develop the concept of responsible tourism Hotel Barahi, Tiger Mountain Pokara Lodge, PCCI and PTC have already brought some newness to enhance community- based tourism and have helped reduce environmental impact. The initiation taken by Pokhara Tourism Council in the year 2011 to make Lake Side ‘No Vehicle Zone’ after 3 pm was certainly good starting to create more conducive environment. However, the campaign wasn’t supported by all the stakeholders due to which there was controversy in declaring ‘No Vehicle Zone’ at Lake Side in Pokhara. This clearly shows that without active participation of all the stakeholders and lack of facilitation by the government, the very situation can lead to the failure of the project.
The future of tourism in Pokhara depends on how the entrepreneurs, NGOs, stakeholders, people, and the government address the serious threat of environmental pollution in order to keep exotic city neat and clean. In addition to this, development of tourism is only possible through maintaining tourist-friendly corporate culture. To enhance tourist-friendly culture all the entrepreneurs should stop cut-throat competition and build fixed price system to reduce dilemma of the consumers. Therefore, the concerned people need to work together to make Pokhara pollution free, eco-friendly and responsible tourism destination.
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