On Friday, the 10th of May, students from the BSc Tourism had the chance to meet Mr. Mim Hamal from SNV Netherlands Development Organization. Mr. Hamal is the team leader of the Great Himalaya Trail Programme, a pro-poor programme designed to spread economic benefits of tourism across the Nepali Himalayas (http://www.thegreathimalayatrail.org).
The Great Himalayan Trail (GHT) is a network of walking trails crossing some of the highest peaks in the world. It is not without reason that the trail is called the GREAT Himalayan Trail; it takes +/- 150 days of continuous hiking to complete the entire trail in one journey.
The thought behind this project however is that one does not walk the trail all at once, but rather in smaller stages. Therefore, the trail is divided into 10 parts. From the perspective of the Nepalese tourism industry, the GHT is a tool to stimulate repeat visit to Nepal. At the same time the GHT is meant to distribute tourist expenditure to parts of Nepal which are off the main tourism map.
In 2006, the Dutch development agency SNV and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development proposed the idea of marketing the trail as one overall product to tourists. The focus was put on attracting foreign and domestic visitors to under-developed and impoverished areas where only few alternative development opportunities exist.
Apart from the GHT, Mr. Hamal also introduced the BSc Tourism students to his home district of Humla – one of the poorest districts in Nepal. His lecture helped students to get an better cultural understanding of life in remote rural areas and sparked their curiosity to visit this part of the Himalayan Mountains.
For the BSc Tourism programme, this guest lecture was of great additional value. The Great Himalayan Trail offered an inspiring example of how various stakeholders like (international) development agencies, host communities, local & national government, and the tourism industry cooperate to develop the potential of tourism to improve the quality of life.