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4 May 2021 | KSL

From a gateway to a destination: Developing Namkha as a transboundary tourism hub

Sunayana Basnet

2 mins Read

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Nyalu pass, at an elevation of 4,995 masl, is the major entry point into the Limi Valley. Here, villagers board a truck that will take them to the valley. (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

Namkha Rural Municipality is repositioning itself. Nestled in the remote Humla District of Nepal, the municipality borders the southern edge of China’s Pulan County. This makes it a popular gateway to the sacred Kailash-Mansarovar area in Pulan, where thousands make their pilgrimage every year. But communities in Namkha see their home as more than just a gateway. Namkha could become a tourism destination in itself. Its unique culture and heritage and its striking trans-Himalayan landscapes have much to offer – and hold – tourists en route to Kailash-Manasarovar.

Namkha Rural Municipality along with our Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI) has been actively working for a number of years to develop the region as a transboundary tourism hub. In this context, we developed a sustainable tourism development plan with both short- and long-term objectives. The five-year tourism plan highlights the attractions and unique selling points of Namkha, including the Limi Valley, Lapcha La Pass, and Rinchenling Monastery. The plan aims to promote Namkha as a tourism destination by showcasing its rich cultural heritage and niche ecotourism products.

On 7 February 2021, we conducted an interaction workshop in Kathmandu to share with stakeholders a draft of the tourism plan. We wanted to hear from the stakeholders and together determine ways to move forward and implement the plan.

Tourism expert Ram Chandra Sedai, who drafted the tourism plan, shared the salient features of the tourism plan. One of the major discussion points was how Namkha could be transformed from a gateway or transit point to Kailash-Manasarovar into a destination in its own right. Chhakka Bahadur Lama, Honourable Member of Parliament from Humla District, stated, “Each and every ward of Namkha is a tourism destination on its own with their unique culture, tradition, and outstanding landscape.” However, in order for Namkha to flourish as a tourism hub, it is important to improve connectivity with basic tourism infrastructure, enhance communication networks for tourists, and standardize tourism facilities such as accommodation. Jeevan Bahadur Shahi, Honourable Provincial Member of Parliament, Humla District, agreed and shared, “We need to consider that tourists look for comfort, so we must work towards providing them with better services.”

five-year tourism plan
The workshop included a session where participants provided their inputs on the draft five-year tourism plan. (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

 

The workshop participants recognized the need for coordination and consultation between the province and the local governments. As the budget allocated for development activities is limited, duplication of activities should be avoided. Participants also acknowledged that regardless of how good a plan is, there will always be challenges during implementation. Hence, the active role of the government and the private sector is necessary to achieve the targets set out in the plan. There was an agreement that tourism in Namkha should package and promote culture-based community tourism to bring economic benefits to the local communities while maintaining and preserving their unique heritage, culture, and traditions.

Bishnu Lama, Chairperson, Namkha Rural Municipality, stated that the feedback from the workshop participants will be helpful in finalizing the plan. He also requested relevant stakeholders to support and work together with his local government to develop Namkha as a tourism destination. He concluded the workshop by committing to finalizing the plan and sharing it with relevant organizations and stakeholders.

Furthermore, KSLCDI will contribute to developing Namkha as a tourism hub by providing technical support for profiling and marketing its tourism products and building the capacity of local communities to provide quality tourism services.

 

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