RURAL NEPAL: Sustainable Destination Certification

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Rural Nepal crowdfunding on Sociallending. The genesis and development of this project comes from meetings, exchanges and a common idea: the creation of an opportunity for sustainable development through an activity that is not only economic, but also social and cultural: responsible trekking tourism.

In 2011 myself, Federica, from Trentino, left for Nepal for a research thesis on peace and mediation studies, in relation to the civil conflict that swept the country up until 2006. I decided to stay, until now! In 2013, in fact, working as a mediator with the local community for infrastructural projects, I met Rabindra, leader of the region and social mobilizer and we began to work together, in an area northern of Kathmandu, Melamchi, in social projects for the benefit of the local community. In 2017, we identified tourism as an opportunity for the development of remote, rural and mountainous areas. We therefore founded Sustainable Tourism agency Garima Voyage, which in Nepalese means Dignity. A job that combines the passion for trekking and discovery, with the desire for social justice, through a more equitable distribution of opportunities.

Thanks to the friendship with SAT (Società Alpinisti Tridentini), a real intervention of technical assistance and training was born in 2018 for the identification, creation and mapping of trekking routes, which rely on paths already in daily use between the local community, for travel, agricultural and livestock activities.

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A group of members of the Board of Directors including the President, left for Nepal in the area of the municipality of Melamchi, 40 km north of Kathmandu. They worked in the field together with the community and local authorities, for mapping and putting standardized signal along the routes; they exchange views with the regional and national authorities in charge of tourism.

The enthusiasm aroused in Melamchi leads to a chain reaction, which involves other neighboring municipalities such as Panchpokhari and between 2019 and 2021, the trail network therefore expands by over 60 km and thanks to government support, we have managed to set up a rich offer of homestays and services for tourists, with the added value of giving trust, recognition and dignity to the local culture. This network also connects to the famous Great Himalayan Trail.

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The culture and richness of local communities is represented by a population made up of many different ethnic groups, with different traditions, languages and habits, but who live and coexist in respect of tolerance and mutual understanding. The risk represented by a fragile mountain and rural environment, heavily affected by climate change (as in the flood of summer 2021) and the lack of economic alternatives to subsistence agriculture, lead to the abandonment of these territories, together with cultural impoverishment. This intervention aims instead to diversify the activities of the territory, leading to greater resilience of the community and better management of natural resources, actions that lead towards a strengthening of identity and protection, promotion of authentic culture and traditions, inestimable wealth and real source of happiness and dignity for every human group.

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In 2021, we win the WLO Innovation Award for the Trekking Routes in Nepal: Path for a Sustainable Development Model project for the way we focus on the social and cultural aspects of leisure. In fact, trekking leads to a true experience both for of host community and for visitors to the community itself, becoming a creative solution to collectively improve the quality of social, cultural, environmental and economic life in the area where we operate. Thanks to this recognition we have decided to move on to the next phase to promote this path and extend the benefits to neighboring communities, but above all to address the community’s desire for sustainable development by obtaining the CERTIFICATION OF SUSTAINABLE DESTINATION by 2024. Promote authentic tourism, which enriches the territory, aiming at sustainability for the visitor but above all for the host community. It would be the first certification of its kind in Nepal. A very important signal!

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This work will become possible only thanks to the collaboration with UNITN, in the Master for Sustainability of Tourism, thanks to its students and professors who will be involved in the design and implementation through the mediation of SAT. The transfer of knowledge will also involve collaboration with the Nepalese University and its students, who will participate in the research. The goal for spring 2022 is data collection and processing in relation of certification, to reach the first stages of implementation and monitoring in autumn 2022, passing from the transfer of know-how, capacity building and strengthening of institutions responsible for undertaking the actions towards certification.

Accompanying us in this ambitious, but exciting climb to the top of our goals, will also be Kevin Cortella (storyteller) and Alessandro Polla (filmmaker), two motivated young people who will make a documentary film to promote the territory, tell the extraordinary stories of the people who live there and to underline the value of the Sustainability Certification, which is fundamental not only for the community and the places where we operate, but also to increase the awareness of visitors on the importance of doing tourism carefully, respectful of its impact and sustainable in its own attitudes. And this is where we ask for your help: if you believe in our mission and our vision! We need 40,000.00 euros! We are convinced that authentic teamwork can really make a difference. It requires patience, changes of plans, but a clear direction.

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You can do it by clicking on the donation bottom at the top of this project description or by clicking on SUPPORT NOW bottom, at the right top of the page: you will be contacted in few hours by email, receiving more details about the funds collection.

  1. It is possible to participate with voluntary contribution of any amount or by choosing one of the following range for donation that will allow you to receive specific rewards, as shown in the picture:

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  1. By joining us in the opening of trails / maintenance which will take place in two phases: spring 2022 or autumn 2022. Become a TRAILS Volunteer in NEPAL! with 1000 euros you will have an extraordinary 10-day experience among the beauties of Kathmandu and the extraordinary scenery of the unspoiled Melamchi and Panchpokhari among local homestays to discover the authenticity of the territory. More info: volunteer trekking paths
  1. If you feel like challenging the limits of what is possible OPEN WITH US THE WAY for GAMCHEMPO peak (6378 m), an absolute first opening from the Panchpokari side! with 3000 euros you will be the first to have opened the way to the closest and most accessible peak from Kathmandu, which can become an extraordinary attraction to discover these timeless places. For more info: Gamchempo peak

Making sustainable development through tourism and not simply developing tourism! If you believe in us too, SUPPORT US on SociallendingItalia in this adventure, in this virtual trek to the top of our goals.

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