Promoting tourism to drive economy recovery in Nepal


By Alfie Pearce Higgins

In a game of word association, aid and tourism are not the first things that would come to mind. The former conjures images of abject poverty and emergency relief, whereas the latter is generally associated with the world’s wealthy enjoying themselves. Nepal, however, is showing that foreign aid and tourism can complement each other.

Ever since Nepal opened its borders to foreigners in the 1950s, tourism has played an important role in the economy. With roughly 800,000 visitors per year, tourism is responsible for nearly 10% of GDP and provides employment for close to 500,000 people, particularly in remote rural areas. Add in a natural disaster and the role played by responsible tourism can be even greater.

In addition to the tragic human cost, the earthquakes that struck the Himalayan country in April and May this year devastated the economy. Although most trekking areas, hotels and monuments were unaffected, visitor numbers have decreased by 60-80% in the autumn season meaning that hundreds of thousands of livelihoods are at risk. Most analysts believe that given Nepal’s spectacular attractions, the sector will eventually recover, but that it could take several years.

By communicating a clear message that Nepal is as safe and as stunning as ever, we can help to speed up this process. Through Adam Smith International’s market development project, Samarth, funded by DfID, we are supporting the establishment of the Great Himalaya Trails (GHT) as a platform for innovative and quality promotion of Nepal.

Find out more here and be inspired to have your own GHT experience.