The Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Environment, in partnership with the World Bank, hosted a conference last month to showcase a series of global case studies on how tourism can be sustainably developed in protected areas, while benefitting local communities. Teofelus Ntinda, NDT Senior Programme Officer, represented NACSO at the conference in Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathmandu.
The goal of the conference was to explore different models of sustainable and inclusive tourism that can support tourism in Nepal’s protected areas. There are a variety of models for tourism development that could improve Nepal’s standing as a tourism destination, whilst at the same time providing improved benefits for conservation and local communities. The conference was a platform to exchange knowledge on tourism models
Known to NACSO and NDT as Teo, Ntinda entered the CBNRM sector in 2012 through NACSO as a Conservation Leadership Programme intern, and has since progressed to be NDT’s Senior Programme Officer in the north central area. His contribution to conservation made him a natural ambassador to represent the Namibian CBNRM programme at the conference. Teo says it was a great opportunity to share the Namibian experience with Nepalese government officials, tourism experts, conservationists, entrepreneurs and academics.
His presentation was on the CBNRM programme in Namibia, focussing on community benefits from tourism concessions in state protected areas. Participants took note of the legislation and policies in place in Namibia, the political support from the government, and particularly by the principle of sharing revenue – especially that money goes directly to conservancies.
After multiple discussions and Q&A sessions, the Joint Secretary of the Nepal Ministry of Forest and Environment requested a learning exposure visit to Namibia to understand how the Namibian government and the CNNRM community manage the relationship between community-based organisations, government and private investors.
They would like to learn about operations of business in national parks where communities are benefiting, about how national parks are managed, and to engage in discussions with private sector tourism investors and communities. The World Bank representative in the meeting, Ms Urvashi, supported the initiative and made it known that World Bank is willing to fund the learning visit
Teo stated: “For me it was a great opportunity to understand the global picture and to present on Namibia’s performance.” According to Teo, Nepal has a great opportunity to benefit from international tourism in order to improve the livelihoods of their 20 million plus population. Currently, they have 12 national parks with communities which were relocated from the parks and now live adjacent to them, with no direct benefits returned to the communities. Tourism concessions is one the great opportunities Nepal could explore using the Namibian model.
Teo says the meeting went well and he returned home with renewed pride in the progress made in Namibia on improved livelihoods through tourism, although there is still much more to be done. He is grateful for the opportunity to market Namibia and share his experience at an international level on the facilitation process assisting communities to benefit from protected areas.