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Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism Development ABSTRACT
Multifunctionality of mountain ecosystems is a goal that is sometimes most compatible with independent backpackertourism. Resilient to economic and political disturbance, undemanding in terms of infrastructure development, anddriven by motives compatible with cultural and natural conservation, independent backpackers can also respondquickly to new recreational opportunities. This paper has four sections. The first section reviews current issues inecotourism. It concludes that the there are two distinct trends. On the one hand, the term has been widely used topromote a wide variety of operations, which collectively constitute “business as usual.” On the other hand, the con-cept as used by “purists” does not, in the case of most remote mountain destinations, offer a means of sustainabledevelopment. The second section describes an ecotourism project in Lijiang (Yunnan Province, China). The objectivewas to promote independent backpacker tourism as a means of expanding economic opportunity while fosteringcultural and natural conservation. This project may serve as a useful example of how opportunities can be recognizedand yet missed. The third section describes an ongoing tourism development program in Rolwaling, Nepal. Thisprogram is being implemented by “Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism Development” http://www.bridges-prtd.com/, an organization directed by the author of this paper. We hope that this innovative project will serve as a pilot forsimilar programs elsewhere. The fourth section proposes strategies for the expansion of independent trekking tourism,based on two survey studies as well as observations in Nepal and China. INTRODUCTION
if the distinction is necessary.) Backpackers can be readilyidentified on the basis of a conspicuous visual marker, a Visions of sustainable development in remote natural ar- marker that happens to play a key role in their travel be- eas are generally associated with the precepts of havior. The backpack allows them to travel around a coun- ecotourism. In this paper we take note of current issues try visiting urban centers for months, and then to take off and trends in ecotourism and conclude that, while a mix into the hills for a two-week trek. Backpackers frequent of tourism types is usually both desirable and unavoid- teahouses as well as museums and cathedrals, travel by able, independent backpacker tourism is in many cases a plane, bus and rail as well as by foot and (less commonly, preferable target for development. Not only is “ecotour- these days) by thumb. Independent backpackers can be ism” as a market niche enmired in squabbles over who is cultural tourists one day, sun-and-beach tourists the next, and is not an ecotourist, but the trajectory seems headed and adventure tourists on a weekend rafting trip on yet for a developmental cul-de-sac, limited to upscale tour- another day. They may join locally-based organized tours, ism in artificial social environments. Unfettered by uto- or they may stop traveling and take a job. Likewise, com- pian aspirations, recreational trekking routes for indepen- mercial groups may be outfitted with backpacks, and even dent backpackers may serve as the template for a variety travel in the manner of independent backpackers. This is of microenterprises which dovetail with the pre-existing of little importance to us. The need to distinguish reliably multifunctional relationship between local residents and between independent backpackers and other tourists is not their environment; and they may trickle-drip the economic urgent: we are neither counting on the other tourists nor trying to impose guidelines for true backpackers.
By “independent backpacker” we mean someone who Many independent backpackers could actually be con- is traveling, either alone or with others, but not with a sidered “ecotourists” and are sometimes attracted to guided tour, and using a backpack rather than a suitcase ecotour operations, although they do not set out with that or other form of luggage. An essential characteristic of specific objective. However, from the point of view of backpackers as a market segment is that they can travel in development planners, focusing on this market as inde- virtually any environment, from urban to remote alpine.
pendent backpackers is simpler than targeting “ecotour- (Off-road, they are “trekkers”—or “independent trekkers,” ists.” It avoids the quandary of defining travelers accord- Sicroff, Seth, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha. 2003. Independent Backpacker Tourism: Key to Sustainable Development in RemoteMountain Destinations. In Landscapes of Diversity: Indigenous Knowledge, Sustainable Livelihoods and Resource Governance inMontane Mainland Southeast Asia. Proceedings of the III Symposium on MMSEA 25–28 August 2002, Lijiang, P.R. China. XuJianchu and Stephen Mikesell, eds. pp. 527–543. Kunming: Yunnan Science and Technology Press.
Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha ing to their intentions (which are essentially unknowable PART I: ECOTOURISM
and arguably irrelevant) or according to the results of theirvisit (which can only be determined through long-term The conjunction in 2002 of the UN-sponsored Interna- tional Year of Mountains and International Year of From the point of view of remote mountain destina- Ecotourism reflects the perception that tourism, and par- tions, the independent backpacker market offers numer- ticularly ecotourism, might offer a panacea for the troubles ous significant advantages. Unlike members of commer- of impoverished remote mountain areas. Mountains may cial tours, independent backpackers are opportunistic (that be repositories of rich natural resources, but the identifi- is, open to new opportunities as they develop), flexible in cation and extraction of that wealth can be expensive as itinerary, relatively undemanding regarding comforts and well as damaging to the environment and to the people infrastructure, and often inclined to maximize their travel who depend on them. Tourism, on the other hand, capital- time by cutting expenses. Backpackers appreciate com- izes on the most accessible of resources—those that can fort but are also looking for adventure. “Roughing it” is be observed or experienced by passive visitors. Some actually an objective. (Note the name of one of the more forms of tourism, such as climbing or rafting, may require popular guidebook series, Rough Guides.) Although they more active participation by the consumers requiring some are generally equipped to hike, few are prepared for self- development of infrastructure, but by and large the key sufficient expeditions. Rather than sleep in tents and cook- resource is relatively inexhaustible, the market presents ing their own food, most will take advantage of whatever itself in situ, and start-up costs are trivial compared to vir- local accommodations and facilities are available on the trail. Such “teahouse trekking” results in a high propor- Unfortunately, there are complications. Mountain com- tion of expenditures going directly into the pockets of lo- munities are intensely dependent on a multifunctional re- cal people with comparatively little “economic leakage.” lationship with their natural environment. In general, they While backpackers may not spend as much per day as con- are subsisting at or beyond the carrying capacity of their ventional tourists, they generally stay longer. To reach this cultivated lands. Animal husbandry, hunting, and collec- market, long-distance marketing is unnecessary. Word-of- tion of forest products are all likely to be critical to eco- mouth, bulletin board messages, internet postings, and a nomic survival. Isolated from services available to low- passing mention in a Lonely Planet guide book are suffi- land communities (especially electricity and medicine), cient. Independent backpackers are less likely than com- the mountain communities depend on local resources. The mercial groups to cancel plans due to actual or potential mountains also play a key role in the spiritual life of their political disturbance or natural catastrophe. They are gen- human dependents. These multiple functions impose mul- erally youthful (at least in outlook), ecosensitive, eager to tiple constraints, and indigenous communities necessarily learn and willing to help. All of these traits make indepen- evolve relationships with their environment that allow sus- dent backpackers the ideal market for new destinations in tained reliance on limited and fragile resources. The in- troduction of new consumers into this system tends to cause Although basic infrastructure requirements are simple, significant cultural and ecological disruption. The phenom- initiating trekking tourism is not necessarily simple. In enon of ecotourism is essentially an effort to accommo- this paper the authors recount two attempts to establish date guests into the natural and cultural ecology of remote such development, discussing setbacks and proposing op- destinations in a way that will optimize benefits and mini- portunities to better exploit the potential of backpacker mize hazards to all stakeholders, including flora and fauna, tourism in the future. The first sprang out of a collabora- and also instill in the tourist a globalized consciousness of tive research project undertaken in the early 1990s by the the importance of preserving Earth’s fragile biological and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and the Geography Department of the University of California at Davis whichfocused on the Yu Long Xue Shan, or Jade Dragon Snow DEFINITION
Mountains, of Lijiang County, Yunnan Province, China.1Using ideas generated in this project, the authors founded The definition of “ecotourism” has itself been a conten- Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism Development tious issue (Wearing and Neil 2000). An underlying in- (Bridges-PRTD), a small private company which since convenience is that the word has gained currency in the 1999 has been conducting research and assisting in devel- language-at-large as a vaguely conceived umbrella for any opment in the Himalayan valley of Rolwaling, Nepal.
kind of ecosensitive travel. This usage is fully compatible While both these projects were conceived as commu- with the original meaning intended by Hector Ceballos- nity-based development, we have become increasingly Lascurain, who in 1983 coined the neologism “ecoturismo” aware of the need to attend to conditions on a broader as a portmanteau for “turismo ecológico” (Wood 2002).
scale. In the final section of this paper, which focuses on In 1988, he defined ecotourism as travel “to relatively un- national and municipal planning, we discuss opportuni- disturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the spe- ties for increasing and enhancing the beneficial impacts cific object of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scen- ery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS cultural aspects found in these areas.” This definition says tation of the term among marketers (a.k.a.
nothing about the manner of studying, admiring, and en- “greenwashing”). Certification is seen to be necessary for joying, or whether all three sub-objectives must be in- two basic reasons: (1) to encourage compliance with tended by each ecotourist on every ecotourism occasion, ecotourism objectives, and (2) to offset the costs of com- or whether the object of “studying, admiring and enjoy- pliance by giving a competitive advantage to compliant ing” had to be the sole or even primary purpose.
The earliest definition proposed by The Ecotourism By 1998 there were 46 ecolabel programs, mostly Eu- Society in 1991 eliminates the confusion about those pur- ropean, but the number and coverage is rapidly increas- poses and adds a qualifier to the manner of travel, but it ing. The Blue Flag Campaign, initiated in 1986 in France remains loose: “Ecotourism is responsible travel to natu- and adopted by the European Community in 1987, had by ral areas that conserves the environment and sustains the 1999 certified the quality of more than 2,500 beaches and well being of local people.” According to both of these marinas. Green Globe 21, based on the principles of definitions, as long as you engage in some outdoor activ- UNCED’s Agenda 21, was established by the German ity, refrain from unnecessary damage to the environment, Touristik Union International (TUI) in 1994 and is one of and directly or indirectly contribute to the local economy the most widely recognized certification programs for tour- (if there is one), you are a probably an ecotourist. Skiing, ism enterprises throughout the world. The first ecotourism mountain climbing, and sunbathing are obviously com- certification scheme to actually achieve official status at a national level, a step considered essential for effective Revised definitions have become narrower and more implementation, is Australia’s National Ecotourism Ac- specific, and there has been controversy on virtually ev- creditation Program (NEAP) funded by the Office of Na- ery element of the concept. What, for example, is meant by “relatively undisturbed natural areas”? Some interpre- Despite the progress, a number of relatively intractable tations lean to “pristinity,” although that quality is not likely to be found anywhere much closer than the Moon, and itwould certainly disappear with the arrival of the first 1. For greatest impact, it would be best to have a single ecotourists. Other experts would like to include, for in- certifying authority. Given the range of services and stance, Central Park in New York City (Weaver 2001).
contexts, and the lack of any pre-existing entity with The problem of definition might be reaching a stasis jurisdiction in such matters, convergence is likely to with the publication by the United Nations Environmen- tal Program (which shares with the World Tourism Orga- 2. Most of the certification schemes are based on narrow nization the mandate for overseeing IYE) of a slender (and checklists that tend not to cover all pertinent factors.
a fortiori more authoritative) volume entitled Ecotourism: 3. Inspection and monitoring is logistically problematic Principles, Practices & Polices for Sustainability. The author, Megan Epler Wood, founder and president of the 4. Objectivity is likely to be compromised as long as the International Ecotourism Society, cites the definition operating costs of the certifier are underwritten by the adopted by the World Conservation Union (formerly applicants themselves. (Who in fact is going to certify Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travel and 5. Virtually all programs are voluntary, with no provision visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanyingcultural features—both past and present) that promotes And, particularly in view of these problems, there is an conservation, has low negative visitor impact, and pro- evident need to monitor the impact of the ecolabels, which vides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement would involve another level of logistical problems and costs. A parallel phenomenon is the proliferation of codes The brevity of the definition is vitiated, however, by of conduct aimed at the tourists themselves. Once again the ancillary inclusion of lists of apparently canonical there are problems in the formulation of uniform and site- “Components of Ecotourism” and “Principles of Eco- appropriate guidelines and also in monitoring implemen- tourism,” as well as “Characteristics of a Good Ecotour” and guidelines for nature tour operators (Wood 2002).
More distressing than the conceptual and procedural con- By far the hottest issue these days is “ecotourism certifi- troversies are the attacks of those who maintain that both cation” or, more broadly, “ecolabeling” (Font and Buckley ecolabels for businesses and guidelines for tourists are little 2001; Honey 2002). In part, the push for accreditation more than marketing devices for commercial enterprises.
stems from the fuzzy definition of “ecotourism,” as the This charge is certainly justified in at least some cases, positive connotations have encouraged a liberal interpre- and as mentioned above, a major topic of discussion among Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha ecotourism exponents is how to distinguish bona fide eco- Other “principles of ecotourism” prescribe that rev- tourism from “greenwash.” Not surprisingly, many of the enues be directed “to the conservation and management most avid purists are actually interested parties and stand of natural and protected areas,” and “that environmental to gain financially both from the publicity of the contro- and social base-line studies as well as long-term monitor- versy itself and also from the impact of accreditation.
ing programs” be carried out (Wood 2002). These stipu- Among those unconvinced by all the ecosensitive talk lations are clearly not going to be feasible in an impover- is a rather significant group of stakeholders. A coalition of ished remote destination where the first—and perhaps indigenous peoples has been protesting IYE on the grounds only—step toward involvement in the tourism industry that they were not adequately represented in the planning may be the conversion of a few private homes into part- time teahouses catering to occasional independent trek-kers.
…For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have suffered from In fact, projects that conform to current notions of displacement and dispossession and we see the incur- “ecotourism proper” are likely to require substantial in- sion of the profit-driven global tourism industry as well vestments of outside time, know-how, and capital, and they as the rhetoric of ‘sustainable development’ in the IYE will remain dependent on sophisticated marketing beyond as the latest threat to our lands and our communities… the local region. They may serve a valuable function by The IYE must not be used to legitimate the invasion way of demonstrating sustainable development, but they and displacement of Indigenous territories and com- are not going to serve as a viable model for the thousands munities. (Declaration of the International Forum on of communities that would like to participate but have no Indigenous Tourism, prepared for the World Ecotourism Summit and the World Summit on Sustainable Devel- Given the tendency of both commercial and educational opment at Oaxaca, Mexico, March 18–20, 2002.) tours to include both natural and urban destinations, wemight expect “ecotourism” to acquire an even broader ap- CONCEPTUAL INCOMPATIBILITIES
plication. After all, volunteer work and study (as well asappreciation and enjoyment) can easily focus on the ecol- Apart from these unseemly controversies, there are aspects ogy (natural as well as cultural) in relatively impacted as of “ecotourism proper” that we find problematic from the well as relatively un-impacted areas. In short, we believe perspective of tourism development in impoverished re- it would be fair to use the word “ecotourism” to describe mote mountain regions. Some seem to proceed from over- the kind of traffic we would like to see in remote moun- sights that might be corrected. For instance, one “prin- tain destinations. On the other hand, we find it simpler to ciple” of ecotourism is the insistence on “minimizing the avoid the term—which is why we call our company use of fossil fuels.” Clearly, the optimal energy solution “Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism Development.” We in many remote mountain destinations would be micro- are not trying to establish a new branch of alternative tour- hydropower plants, but these are generally unfeasible in ism; we simply prefer to avoid the moral pretensions and the earlier stages of development. This means that fossil lexical polemics that have become associated with fuels are sometimes the best hope. In the Khumbu of Nepal, for instance, the use of kerosene has been essential in thereduction of pressure on forest resources. The idea of mini-mizing the use of fossil fuels is actually quite ironic in the PART II: THE JADE DRAGON TREKKING
context of an industry that promotes travel to destinations PROJECT2
on the other side of the world, consuming thousands ofliters of (non-renewable) jet fuel per person.
In 1993 and 1994, a collaborative research project involv- A more fundamental problem is that many of the “prin- ing the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and the Ge- ciples” or “components” of “ecotourism proper” are predi- ography Department of the University of California at cated on the assumption that ecotourism is and will con- Davis undertook an intensive study of six villages in the tinue to be comprised primarily of packaged tours. Much Jade Dragon Snow Mountains (Yu Long Xue Shan) of is made, for instance, of the importance of education— Lijiang County in Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of not just passive observation and contemplation, but “in- China, with special attention to issues of gender and eth- terpretation,” with trained (and certified!) guides and ma- nic equity (Ives and He 1996; Sicroff 1998; Swope 1995).
terial distributed to travelers even prior to departure. Aside This research was intended both as a source of baseline from the presumption that tourists constantly need to be data for further studies and also as a basis for recommen- taught, and moreover that they couldn’t learn what they dations regarding appropriate and sustainable develop- needed from guidebooks and other reading material or casual discussion with local residents, there is the assump- In November 1994, toward the end of our second three- tion that the tourism enterprise would have the resources month research expedition, the YASS-UCD research team participated in public meetings at Wenhai and Yuhu to dis- INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS cuss the future. It came as something of a surprise that in At the time of our visits, there were no paved roads in both villages, despite the fact that only a handful of trav- Yuhu. The town was linked by a narrow one-kilometer elers had passed through in several decades, there existed dirt road to the new paved road that connects the village a nearly unanimous conviction that tourism was the solu- of Yulong (site of the Yufeng monastery, with its 10,000- tion to all problems. Villagers presented numerous spe- Blossom Camellia) to the “highway” projecting north from cific ideas as to how to exploit local natural and cultural Lijiang up the center of Lijiang Plain. Although a scant assets. We took notes, and compiled an ambitious but scal- twenty minutes by taxi from downtown Lijiang City, daily able program to develop community-based tourism, which life in Yuhu depended entirely on medieval technology.
was subsequently approved in both towns by apparently Fields were tilled by ox-drawn plows. Electricity was avail- unanimous voice vote. What follows is a summary of the able on a limited scale, enough for a few dim lights; many households have radios, but there are no TVs. Plumbing The feasibility of the proposed trekking routes depended was non-existent. The water supply was an open channel on two fundamental considerations: Are the assets suffi- paralleling the main street; domestic animals waded into cient to attract tourists? Would such development suit the it for a drink, villagers washed their clothes in it, trash needs of the community? Of course, there are numerous was tossed in or around it, and from it was drawn all water potential obstacles to any development plan, and several for cooking and drinking, generally in the early morning were elaborated in our plan. However, there is no point in when it was somewhat cleaner. Toilet facilities were primi- reviewing these here; instead, we will simply explain the tive outhouses; feces and odd scraps of paper or cigarette obstacles that did in fact materialize.
wrappers used as toilet paper accumulated where theydropped, or a few feet away, eventually to be spread over BACKGROUND
the fields as night soil. The only “modern” facility was theconcrete latrine in the schoolyard, a wretched stinking open Technically, both Wenhai (3050 m) and Yuhu (2730 m) cesspool crawling with maggots and worms—like public are “administrative villages” within Baisha Township, im- toilets everywhere in China. The only recreational facility mediately north of Lijiang City. The village generally re- was a pool table attached to one of two minuscule conve- ferred to as “Yuhu” actually comprises two “natural vil- nience shops with window-counters facing on the widen- lages,” Upper Yuhu and Lower Yuhu, which together with ing in the access road that serves as a primitive market the natural village of Wenhua (two kilometers east of Yuhu) square. Here residents sold freshly butchered pigs through form the “administrative village” of Yuhu. Wenhai Ad- a haze of flies, and when the peddler came through once a ministrative Village includes four natural villages: Upper week, bartered grain for noodles. A somewhat larger walk- (Xia) Wenhai, Lower (Shang) Wenhai, Runangu, and in store on the south side of the village headquarters pur- Enjiding. Upper and Lower Wenhai are both located near veyed sneakers, flashlights, and a modest inventory of the administrative village headquarters on Wenhai Lake; Runangu is an hour’s walk to the northwest, across the Conditions in Wenhai were (and remain) even more valley from Enjiding village. Because of time constraints, primitive than those in Yuhu. The total cash income of our investigation focused on Upper Wenhai and on Upper Wenhai administrative village in 1992 was 346,540¥, or and Lower Yuhu, with only cursory attention to the other 419.54¥ (US$51) per capita. Not only was productivity inadequate to provide for minimal nutritional requirements,but economic prospects were so bad that women from other villages were unwilling to marry young men from Wenhai.
While Wenhai is only 23 kilometers by road and trail from Yuhu is one of the poorest administrative villages in Lijiang Lijiang (and much less, as the crow flies), it is quite re- County. In 1992, the total income of the two natural vil- mote from modern influences due to its location at an el- lages of Yuhu was 474,824¥, or 442.11¥ (US$54) per evation of 3,180 meters in the southern foothills of the capita. According to 1992 figures, there were 273 house- Jade Dragon Mountains. The closest road is one that leads holds in the entire administrative village of Yuhu, with a to Yuhu and Yufeng Si. It takes three to four hours to reach population of 1,277. The number of members per house- Wenhai by foot from Baisha, and all goods must be car- hold had dropped substantially over the previous four de- ried by humans or pack animals. Due to the elevation, win- cades, from 6.00 per household in 1950 to 4.70 in 1992.
ters are cold, without electricity, Wenhai was entirely de- These trends, in a minority region (where families are not pendent on fuel wood and charcoal for cooking and heat- legally restricted to one child) suggest the influence of poor nutrition, out-migration, and depressed economic op- At the time of our study, it seemed unlikely that con- portunity. This is consistent with our finding in June 1993 ventional agriculture could provide more than a meager that thirteen households (with 55 members) out of the 123 subsistence way of life in either Yuhu or Wenhai. Illegal households in Upper Yuhu alone had insufficient resources timber cutting, however, had become a significant element to meet their basic nutritional needs.
of the economy. Not only were important resources being Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha depleted, but essential labor was being diverted from field Topographically, Wenhai’s setting contrasts strongly with crops and animal husbandry. As is generally the case where Yuhu’s. The village is clustered around the northern shore black market activities compete with legitimate interests, of Wenhai Lake, an oval expanse about two kilometers long there was collateral damage to the social fabric: fights and and three-quarters of a kilometer wide. During the dry win- rivalries had broken out, and representatives of traditional ter, the lake drains away into limestone sinkholes at the institutions had been threatened and even attacked as they southern terminus, leaving a broad meadow that is kept closely cropped by herds of mules, horses, and swine. To As a supplemental and largely seasonal activity, tour- the west and east rise forested slopes; to the north, a humid ism appears to be a potentially lucrative alternative to such forest of evergreens and rhododendrons stretches two or current “sidelines” as basket and broom making, not to three kilometers before giving way to a broad deforested mention illegal exploitation of forest resources. Moreover, valley. Above Wenhai to the northeast towers the shimmer- the need to provide hospitality at an internationally ac- ing snow-clad peak of Shanzidou. The surroundings are ceptable standard would introduce improvements in sani- dramatic, whether in late winter and spring, when tation, water supply, waste disposal, and basic conditions, Shanzidou looks down on a quaint little village of cottages as well as stimulate interest in English, service training, and cobbled lanes and a vast green meadow dotted with and general education. These would inevitably enhance horses and sheep, or in late summer and fall, when the the general standard of living. Mere exposure to Western meadow is transformed into a broad sapphire lake.
culture close at hand would broaden the horizons of all Although the name Wen Hai means “Culture Lake,” residents and motivate some to seek greater opportunities the town was never a significant cultural center; in fact, for themselves individually, for their families, and ulti- its traditional name was Gan Hai, or “Dry Lake,” and was changed after the Communist Revolution in order to in-spire greater efforts to expand literacy. The current school CORE ASSETS
is housed in the run-down shell of a monastery, whichreally ought to be reconstructed: with all the damage, the Both Wenhai and Lijiang share in the rich natural and cul- original beauty and grace is still evident, even to a non- tural heritage of Lijiang County and of Yunnan as a whole.
specialist’s eye. Wenhai’s primary cultural attraction, how- These are really too numerous to elaborate in any kind of ever, must be the current way of life—admittedly, an un- detail. For our purposes it is sufficient to point out that the stable basis on which to build “sustainable” tourism, as 1996 edition of Lonely Planet’s guidebook for China high- the success of tourism development would change the ob- lighted only two locales as having the potential to become ject of its attention. In this regard, one of Wenhai’s stron- “legendary backpacker destinations.” One was Xishuang- ger assets is surely its location. Just a few hours’ walk banna, in southern Yunnan, and the other Lijiang (Taylor from Lijiang City, the nearest approximation to the twenty- first century in the northwestern part of Yunnan, Wenhai Wenhai and Yuhu, though very different, have similar offers a glimpse of a traditional pastoral lifestyle. Remote assets. Both are peaceful and exceedingly picturesque sanc- (due to the topography), yet conveniently close at hand; tuaries of a traditional way of life that elsewhere is rapidly impoverished, subsisting with very few modern ameni- dissolving and assimilating into mainstream Han culture.
ties, yet not the least squalid, Wenhai is a natural destina- The natural surroundings are spectacular and diversified, tion for the culturally voyeuristic tourist.
with opportunities for picnicking, hiking, rock-scrambling, Wenhai is a logical base camp for climbing expeditions.
(When the British Royal Mountain Climbing Club In the Naxi language, Yuhu is called Ngvlvkee (“Foot mounted an expedition to climb Shanzidou in 1996, they of the Snow Mountain”), and indeed the village is perched stayed at Wenhai for two weeks, waiting for the weather on an alluvial fan at the foot of the southeastern escarp- to clear.) Apart from the main peak, there are nearby rock ment, directly beneath the tallest peak in the Jade Dragon faces and caves, although the sharp and somewhat crum- range. Though a small village, Yuhu is famous throughout bly limestone may not be ideal for climbing.
the Naxi culture. For a long time, it was an important royal Wenhai is also a good point of departure for visits to residence. The site of the palace itself is clearly marked Runangu and other nearby villages. Runangu is even by a group of cedars on the northern side of the current poorer and more authentic than Wenhai. Most of the Yi village. During the 1950s and 1960s glazed tiles with en- women still wear their traditional costumes, and their dance graved designs were discovered there. In addition, Yuhu ensemble is a popular attraction when it appears in Wenhai was home base for Joseph Rock, an exceedingly flam- boyant Austrian-born naturalized American who, from1922 to 1949, carried out pioneering studies in natural SYNERGISTIC MULTIFUNCTIONALITY: ANCILLARY
history and Naxi philology on behalf on National Geo- DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
graphic Magazine and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.
Yuhu’s glamorous history and its connection with Joseph By providing an on-site market for under-exploited re- Rock are both important tourism assets.
sources and by motivating shifts in energy allocation and INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS cultural priorities, a relatively small influx of visitors may locale for raising rainbow trout (hong zun yu), an intro- initiate changes that have important repercussions beyond duced species that commands premium prices.
immediate tourism revenues. Such changes typically in- In Wenhai, there was considerable discussion of what clude strengthening of traditional life style, renewed in- to do with all the chickens when the tourism eggs started terest in protection of natural resources, and introduction to hatch: there were many who spoke in favor of the pur- and expansion of cultivars and handicrafts. Given the ex- chase of a good stud yak so as to increase the quality and traordinarily high market value of specialty products when number of the cattle herds. This recommendation was os- sold directly to a local end-consumer, tourism may cata- tensibly linked to tourism development insofar as the tour- lyze initiatives that subsequently develop into new cash ists would be a likely market for dairy products; on the other hand, it seemed evident to us that tourism repre- One of the immediate repercussions of a new tourist sented something of a bird in the bush to many villagers, trade would be a small but relatively lucrative market for while livestock seemed a more reliable source of income.
cash crops that would enhance the rather scant menu of Western tourists are notoriously fascinated with tradi- staples generally consumed by villagers. Our experience tional Eastern medicine. Dr. Ho, a herbalist who caters to in Nepal and elsewhere has shown that unusual luxury tourists in Baisha, has become the premier attraction of foods can become tourism magnets as important as any that town—a tourist draw far more important than the fa- cultural or topographic attraction. Two notable examples mous frescoes and architectural relics (Taylor 1996). Many on the Everest trekking route are cheese, produced at mon- of the important herbs are actually natives of the higher asteries such as Thodung, and apple products (especially elevations, and Wenhai traditionally cultivates medicinal pie and cider), at Ringmo and on the Lamjura Pass.
plants of very high quality. These plants include chinguan, The same cold climate and thin, sandy soil that limit dangui, fuzi, muhang and ginseng. The major medicinal productivity of the major field crops in Yuhu are actually plant today is marijuana. In 1972, the marijuana produc- quite propitious for other crops. The development of new tion was 100 kilogram from 5 mu; in 1992, 39 kilogram markets for specialties has even encouraged reclamation were harvested from 4 mu. (Sixteen mu equal one hect- of hitherto uncultivated land. Among the new crops are are.) While this particular crop might pose problems, the the large white bean (da bai yun do), and the fen si gua other crops could be marketed in sachets as tourist souve- melon, whose seeds command a high market price. Pros- pects are also good for the expansion of horticultural crops, Tourism can also work synergistically with efforts to particularly apple and plum. Yuhu’s cold climate is also conserve endangered natural resources. In the first place, suitable for growing apples, plums and other horticultural residents quickly realize that the tourists are attracted to crops. Apples ripen much later in Yuhu than in other or- “pristine” natural environments and repelled by the kind chards in Lijiang County, giving the village an important of destruction caused by large-scale timber extraction. With sufficient economic motivation, the villagers are more Several potentially lucrative strategies for the husbandry development have been recognized in recent years. These This motivation would become even more compelling involve dzo (yak-cow hybrid), ximanda’er (dairy cattle), if villagers realized the potential market for specialized pig, sheep, and fish. Some of these strategies actually in- tours. Rhododendron and azalea tours would be a logical volve the resurrection of traditional practices. From 1964 development, as there are 41 varieties in the area, many to 1987, there were still more than fifty dzo in the village.
around the meadow of Xian Ji Ya. Already, villagers in Since the implementation of “household responsibility,” Yuhu have undertaken to plant rhododendrons in their gar- most of the dzo have been bought by the people of the dens. One, Jia Ya Lü of Lower Yuhu, learned during his Tibetan village Sandawan in the Hei Shui valley. The but- work at the Institute for Botanical Studies at Kunming how ter made from dzo milk is firm and tasty and stores well. It to raise rhododendrons and began to cultivate them on his is also comparatively expensive: each kilogram of dzo own in 1988. On a half-mu plot, he has grown some 40 butter can be sold for as much as 60¥, compared to 24¥ different varieties, more than 30 from the local area. His for ordinary cow butter. Sheep and goats, once numerous, plants have been sold to the Golden Palace (Jin Dian) in can be exploited for the production of traditional woolen Kunming and to the Lu Shan Botanical Garden; he also capes. The problem is that the traditional technique for sells specimens to Beijing and elsewhere. Jia Ya Lü’s ex- making the capes has been all but lost in Yuhu; earlier, pertise could be the basis for specialized tours, with cli- many old people were engaged in this handicraft, but now ents being led on a trek through the hills to see the rhodo- few are left. The consensus among the villagers is that, on dendrons in flower. The key problem is to prevent dam- an expanded scale, this cottage industry would be a useful age to natural stands through collection and transplanta- addition to Yuhu’s “sidelines” and would encourage the tion. Specimens for export should be grown from seed or development of larger sheep herds. Sheep raising not only section. Reforestation of damaged stands would protect augments household income but also provides a source of high-quality fertilizer. The same cold-spring sources that Like Yuhu, Wenhai could be a good base for botanical are so important to Yuhu’s herds also make Yuhu a good tours. The rhododendron forests are in fact much more Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha accessible from Wenhai than from Yuhu. Wenhai is also close to some of the richest sources of alpine medicinalherbs; these lie several hundred meters above the trail that • From Yuhu: rhododendron and bird-watching walks; connects Wenhai and Runangu. The surviving fauna might ascent to the meadow at 4,000 meters; walk up to a be too rare to make much of, economically, except per- haps the birds. During certain months of the year, Wenhai • From Wenhai: hikes up the hills to the east and west, or Lake is visited by large numbers of migrating waterfowl, over the pass to the southwest; walk up to the snow line; this is also the best place to launch a summit climb Bird-watching is another option. In the mountains above • From Qiaotou: bus to Zhongdian, Sanpa, and Deqen, Yuhu there are still several species of pheasant, especially in the Xian Ji Ya area. In the early morning, the endan- • From Walnut Grove: trek to Haba village and then to gered white pheasant can be spotted. Ives and Messerli the sinter terraces of Sanpa (an important religious pil- have proposed that, with protection and perhaps a cap- tive-breeding program, the endangered endemic Crossop- • From Daju: climb the northern peaks of the Jade Dragon tilon c. lichiangense would be an enticing attraction for Range (these are non-technical and do not require Western photographer-ornithologists (Ives and Messerli Horses and mules have been used in recent decades primarily for illegal timber extraction operations. How- These diverse attractions could bring trekkers who were ever, Wenhai’s large herds of equines could become a tour- not so intent on completing a full circuit on foot; or, they ism asset, whether to carry supplies for tourist consump- might become catalysts that motivate local interests to com- tion or to assist excursions and expeditions. The horses plete the trail links for a full circumambulation. In the and mules are also picturesque, as they graze on the banks shorter term, more modest circuits could be promoted: of the lake shore or on the meadow when the lake is dry.
Yuhu-Wenhai-Yulong (site of the Yufeng Monastery with Many tourists have heard of Lijiang’s reputation for horse its 10,000-Blossom Camellia); or Yuhu-Wenhai-Lijiang breeding. A horse fair featured prominently in the BBC (descending directly south of Wenhai, rather than return- film “Beyond the Clouds,” and guidebooks often refer vaguely to the possibility of finding someplace that rents Initially, the key investment in Wenhai and Yuhu would horses for riding. This could become a lucrative option be two small lodges capable of accommodating sixteen guests each. In Yuhu, the plan entailed the purchase ofJoseph Rock’s former residence and its conversion into a TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLAN
small museum. Other enhancements of Yuhu’s current as-sets might follow, including the reconstruction of the Our proposal for the tourism in the Jade Dragon Moun- Princess’s island prison in Yuhu Lake, and the restoration tains was essentially scalable. It could begin with modest of the Naxi kings’ summer palace. To manage these de- steps in one or two locales, but we hoped that it would velopments—both with regards promotion and also as con- expand to embrace a large area with a wide range of at- cerns the equitable sharing of labor and profits—it was tractions that would appeal to tourists with diverse inter- agreed that each village would form a Tourism Coopera- ests. The basic concept was to promote tourism to Yuhu tive and that the cooperatives would work together in de- and Wenhai as stages of a longer route circumambulating veloping and promoting the trekking circuit. Training of the entire Jade Dragon Mountain range. This ten-to-twelve co-op managers would be provided by the Lijiang Coop- day route would encompass virtually all the villages in eratives Project (Lijiang Naxizu Ziahixian Hezuoshe the region, and would accomplish two important goals: it Choubei Lingdao Xiaozu), an institute founded in 1992 would encourage trekkers to spend a maximum amount by members of Simon Fraser University (Canada) and the of time (and money) in the region without retracing their steps; and it would allow for an equitable distribution of At Wenhai, there was the possibility of constructing a tourism income. The full route would begin at Yuhu, as- small dike around the sinkholes by which the lake drains cend to Wenhai, traverse around to the northwest before away every year. This would allow more consistent ex- descending near Qiaotou, continue through Tiger Leap ploitation of the lake as a tourist attraction, making boat- Gorge to Daju, and return to Lijiang via the Nature Pre- ing and fishing possible. At the same time, the lake could serve. In some sections, new trails would need to be de- be configured as a full-scale fishery, with isolated breed- veloped so that trekkers could avoid motor roads. The key ing and nursery pools, as well as weirs for convenient har- attraction would be Tiger Leap Gorge, and it would be vesting. (In the spring of 1993, the Lijiang County Water necessary to protect a hiking trail against encroachment and Electrical Resources Department inspected the lake and estimated that a dike would cost 10,000¥, or Along the entire route, there are options for side trips US$1,250.) One concern that is to some extent indepen- that could become principal motivators in themselves, as dent of the tourism project is how to protect wildlife at INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS Wenhai, especially waterfowl on the lake. At certain times natural villages which began some years ago when Lower of the year, the lake is visited by hundreds of ducks and Wenhai allegedly appropriated part of Upper Wenhai’s other birds, including grebes, gulls, and even black storks collective forest. A second problem was the lack of train- (Ciconia nigra), a Category 1 Protected Species. These ing of co-op members in basic principles of organizational birds are hunted opportunistically by villagers despite ex- operation, especially in keeping records of decisions and isting laws protecting certain species. If the lake were des- expenditures. A third concern was that women seemed not ignated a county-level nature reserve, it might be protected to be involved in the co-op. The one female villager elected but at the risk of unappreciated outside interference. At to the supervisory committee was soon replaced by her any rate, this is a management issue that would certainly husband on the grounds that it was unseemly for a woman have to be addressed if Wenhai is to market itself to tour- to go with men to meetings at night. Whether coinciden- ists for whom such wildlife resources constitute a signifi- tally or not, this woman had also been critical of the way A somewhat more ambitious element of our plan was When we visited Yuhu and Wenhai in May, 1997, we to set up a study-abroad program at Yuhu. Using the Jo- found both projects had stalled. The replica of Rock’s seph Rock museum and visitor center as an instructional house in Yuhu was little more than a foundation, and al- base, students could come for instruction, research, and though funding was unavailable, the Party Secretary said volunteer work in a variety of projects contributing to both that there was some talk of building the lodge at the Yu tourism development and also to a database that would Zhu Qing Tian scenic spot. We voiced numerous objec- serve in the planning and monitoring of that development.
tions to this site, but, as funding was not available for thatplan, there is little point in enumerating those objections IMPLEMENTATION
here except to note that such development schemes arelikely to go astray in the absence of continuous oversight.
From the small fund set aside for “mini-development The Wenhai lodge was much further along: fresh bed- projects,” the YASS-UCD team allocated 50,000¥ (about ding was available, and my translator Yang Binghua and I US$9,000 at the then-current rate of exchange for For- were able to stay the night in relative comfort. The design eign Exchange Certificates, or FEC; US$6,250, at the ren and location of the lodge seem less than optimal: it is situ- min bi exchange rate) to each of the two villages, Wenhai ated so that there is no unobstructed view of either the and Yuhu. Since the Ford Foundation declined to continue lake or the snow-clad peaks. Even if the building had been our funding beyond 1994, we had no role in the imple- better located, the structure does not take advantage of the mentation of the Yuhu-Wenhai tourism project beyond the natural surroundings, as all the rooms are located at ground donation of this seed-money. Instead, a tourism coopera- level inside a walled compound. When we asked how that tive was to be set up in each village, and they were to property had been selected, we were told that a politically purchase land and buildings suitable for the establishment well-connected individual had been eager to sell it.
of a modest trekking lodge. It was hoped that the Yuhu On the occasion of my May 1997 visit, we were able to cooperative would be able to purchase the farmhouse for- observe Wenhai’s lake in its dry phase. We were surprised merly occupied by Joseph Rock for conversion to a mu- to see several hundred head of livestock grazing on the well-established pasture. Although the grass was still short, A farmhouse was soon purchased in Wenhai at a cost it seemed obvious to us that the lake-bed pasture must be of 23,000¥, and some renovation was undertaken. This a significant economic resource to many villagers; with- building was extensively damaged by the 1996 earthquake, out it, villagers would have to move their herds and flocks and funds to complete the project were unavailable. In to lands at least several hours away. We expressed our Yuhu, negotiations to purchase Rock’s former residence surprise to He Rong Zhi, the village headman, that villag- at a reasonable price proved unsuccessful. The owner ers would contemplate damming the lake and foregoing wanted somewhat more than we had foreseen, and, though the convenience of this pasture, even for a few months.
the difference was actually piddling by “real world” stan- He confirmed that in fact the villagers hated the lake. We dards, a decision was made to construct a replica of that asked him whether they had considered blasting out a chan- building as a trekking lodge. Land and materials were pur- nel at the lower end so that the lake would not form in the chased, and a foundation was laid, but as in Wenhai, the first place. He thought that sounded like a good idea.
money proved—somewhat mysteriously—insufficient.
In 2002, we found that our entire tourism development Early on, we learned of several problems that had arisen plan had been overtaken by events. Our ecolodges had concerning the Wenhai tourism co-op. First, due to widely stalled out by late 1997. Then, in 1998, the Nature Conser- expressed lack of interest in tourism development in Lower vancy got involved in a huge project embracing an area of Wenhai, the co-op was set up within Upper Wenhai alone, northwestern Yunnan the size of West Virginia. One of the despite the fact that the Lower Wenhai is an integral part elements of this project was ecotourism development in of the target area and shares responsibility for the man- Wenhai. Using the YASS-UCD ecolodge as the basis of agement of the lake. The exclusion of Lower Wenhai from development, Graham Bullock and his colleagues revital- the co-op exacerbates a long-standing friction between the ized the cooperative movement that had foundered in our Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha absence. The farmhouse has been rehabilitated, retrofitted erated by the lodge. More to the point, the project targets with alternative energy technology, and is now prepared to development only at one tiny village. It is unlikely that the welcome guests. The villagers of Lower Wenhai belatedly Nature Conservancy could instigate such development in a discovered an interest in tourism development, and a “home- dozen other nearby villages. Nor is there much likelihood stay” plan was developed involving five households.
that other villages will fall into line on their own to create a The Yuhu component of our plan took a radically differ- significant trekking route that would allow the economic ent route. A certain Mr. Huang used his private resources to and recreational benefits to penetrate the entire region.
acquire the original Rock farmhouse and convert it into a Lijiang, meanwhile, has transmogrified from a remote modest museum. (The unfinished “replica” was torn down.) and largely “undiscovered” destination into a mass-tour- Huang also constructed a rather spiffy hotel (more or less ism Mecca attracting upward of a million domestic tour- compatible with local architecture), and substantially modi- ists per year. The Old Town (Dayan), now a World Heri- fied the landscape at the northwest end of town, building tage Site, has been gentrified and turned into a tourist shrines and stairs around the sacred sites. A parking lot was ghetto. Where there were a total of six hotels in 1995, installed at the south end of town, bringing busloads of tour- there are now more than 200. There is considerable pros- ists. It was not possible for us, in the course of our extremely perity, but much of the wealth is clearly in the hands of short visit, to determine the extent to which villagers were profiting from this development. Dozens stood around with The extent of the transformation is such that it is im- caparisoned ponies hoping to find clients, with not much possible to evaluate the impact on the fly. Clearly, the route apparent success. For some reason connected with tourism taken by the Old Town is nothing like what is envisioned development, a new ordinance had forced farmers to stop by World Heritage Site planners. Much of the develop- cultivating a number of fields at the south end of town. De- ment has been at the expense of ancient structures that spite the obvious opportunities for collaborative promotion, should have been protected. Important local traditions, such the Wenhai and Yuhu developments had proceeded totally as the weekly market in the Old Town square, have been independently. We were told that this was at least in part discontinued. Ordinances require that at least one atten- due to Mr. Huang’s acquisition of a captive monkey for the dant in each shop or tourism enterprise wear some kind of entertainment of his guests—a tactic incompatible with the ethnic costume at all times. But the costumes are not nec- Nature Conservancy’s raison d’être.
essarily local, and the many of the people wearing them We believe that developments in Wenhai and Yuhu are are newly-arrived entrepreneurs and not of the ethnicity typical of the two varieties of “ecotourism” that we dis- represented by the garb. And yet the prosperity seems to parage in the first part of this paper. Whatever the inten- be rather broad-based. Everywhere you look there are large tions of Mr. Huang, and we have no doubt that they were showrooms offering scores of cellular phone models, and of the purest, Yuhu has become a mass-tourism destina- even the rickshaw drivers carry phones on the job.
tion. Tourists arrive in large groups, overwhelm the town As far as we know, our idea of creating a trekking route with their simple numbers, commoditize everything in around the Jade Dragon range has never been formally sight, and depart. Their contact with villagers is minimal.
presented to the authorities. In any case, the main attrac- Certainly there is some economic benefit for the village tion, Tiger Leap Gorge, can no longer be considered a next as a whole, but the presence of a single starred hotel obvi- last-best-place for trekking. A road blasted through the ously impedes the development of smaller-scale lodges west side of the gorge has obliterated the favored hiking which would allow for much more equitable distribution trail; on the east bank, a new path has been blasted as far as the main rapids. The entire development is evidently The Wenhai project, on the other hand, is committed to intended to appeal to mass tourism. There are no villages doing the “right thing”: a large proportion of the villagers on this route, and the primary source of income is surely are involved financially, and there is a serious effort to mini- from the scores of human-powered rickshaws that now mize deleterious cultural and economic impacts. Yet the expedite traffic. Furthermore, the government is still ap- project is and must be atypical. The high cost of rooms parently considering a plan to damn the gorge in order to ($20 per night) is likely to deter independent backpacker generate hydroelectricity. There is still a chance to reverse tourism, and villagers cannot be permitted to compete with and repair some of the damage done to this magnificent the communal ecolodge. The suppression of free-market natural site, but that would require a paradigm shift on the forces entails social engineering and artificial constraints part of Chinese planners. Certainly, the continued work at that are unlikely to be compatible with individual initia- Three Gorges does not bode well for Tiger Leap Gorge.
tive, and they are probably unsustainable in the long run.
In the short run, the project has moved at a glacial speed.
Even after several years, there has been only a handful ofpaying visitors. The entire scheme depends on the contin- First, sustained supervision is necessary for any project ued presence of outside consultants and also on funding based on innovations in social structure, and particularly that is vastly incommensurate with the actual revenues gen- where novel forms of community cooperation are required.
INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS Conflict, corruption, and self-interest must be expected minority in Nepal, their cousins in Rolwaling languished even in the most idyllic settings. Any plan predicated on in a stultifying economic limbo due to the arbitrarily re- social harmony and individual willingness to think first of strictive regulations on tourist access. There is a school the common good is likely to run into serious trouble. Sec- that generally functions for part of the year, being closed ond, unless the project managers happen to have absolute during the cold season; there is no clinic, no police or postal authority over the community (which we believe is not a service, no telephone, and no electricity. Virtually all of good idea), plans must take into account the likelihood Beding’s able-bodied men—except a handful of clergy— that local residents will choose not to work within a com- seek employment in tourist services outside Rolwaling for munal cooperative and elect instead to compete with the at least half the year; the women and children are left alone communal facility. Third, plans for development of remote to harvest the potatoes, tend to the animals, gather fodder mountain destinations must take into account gateway and for the winter, and manage the households. Unsurprisingly, Rolwaling’s value as a biological refuge derives partly from its location and physical isolation. Running east-west PART III: BRIDGES TO ROLWALING
for approximately 30 kilometers, it is separated from Ti-bet by a stretch of the Himalayas that includes Gauri In 1998 we undertook a tourism development program Shankar (7,134 m), which for some time was thought to which was intended to build on the ideas developed for be the highest peak in the world. The Rolwaling River and lessons learned in Lijiang (Sicroff and Alabajos 2001).
flows into the Bhote Kosi (one of several in Nepal); this Bhote Kosi soon becomes the Tamba Kosi. Simigaon, atthe confluence of the Rolwaling and the Bhote, is about • Provide trekking opportunities for independent back- 90 kilometers east of Kathmandu as the crow flies. It can packers as opposed to packaged commercial tours be reached by a four to five day trek from Barabise, which • Offer educational and volunteer opportunities for tour- lies on the road to Tibet in the next valley to the west, or by a two to three day trek from Dolakha, the district ad- • Promote research which would contribute to a data- ministrative seat, located on a short branch off the Swiss base that would remain accessible to a succession of road that connects Lamosangu with Jiri. The latter trail, the lower trails in Rolwaling itself, and particularly the • Foster individual initiatives without undertaking to en- steep ascent to Simigaon, are subject to frequent damage gineer a traditional society as a precondition for devel- during the monsoon season, a problem that has recently been alleviated somewhat by improvements initiated by • Develop projects that could be implemented without the Austrian agency EcoHimal and by the Tsho Rolpa recourse to funding from donor agencies, both because GLOF hazard mitigation project being carried out by Nepal we wanted the maximum degree of flexibility in for- Hydro and General Construction in conjunction with mulating our agenda according to needs and opportu- Bhutwal Energy and HMG’s4 Department of Hydrology nities as they presented themselves and also because and Meteorology (DHM). To the east of Rolwaling is we did not want the project to depend on potentially Khumbu District, which in 1976 was gazetted as Sagarmatha National Park. The wall of peaks betweenRolwaling and Khumbu is breached by the formidable NEED AND OPPORTUNITY
Tashi Laptsa Pass. With good weather, one can make thecrossing between the last settlement in Rolwaling and the Our company, Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism De- most westerly settlement on the Khumbu in about four velopment (Bridges-PRTD), is based in Nepal’s Rolwaling days. Altogether, access to Rolwaling is not quite impos- Valley, an area that presents an unusual combination of sible, but definitely more inconvenient than the most popu- problems and opportunities linking biodiversity and tour- lar trekking routes, several of which can now be ap- ism development. Beding is a remote and impoverished community of about 325 residents (all Sherpas) in One of Rolwaling’s assets as a tourism destination is Gaurishankar VDC,3 Dolakha District. Spread out over its status as a sacred valley. Aside from the traveler’s mun- three villages spanning half the length of Rolwaling Val- dane interest in picturesque local sites, customs, and be- ley, Beding is three to five days’ walk from the nearest liefs, there is a special interest in transcendent reality road head. Relatively isolated and unimpacted, Rolwaling (Bernbaum 1990). Whether on pilgrimage or in search of had been prevented from realizing its potential as an “adventure,” tourists are generally looking for something ecotourism destination by a regulation requiring trekkers like a spiritual experience—inner renewal, the scale and to acquire expensive trekking peak permits, which also meaning of life, respite from routine. It is no accident entailed traveling with fully-equipped caravans. While the that this sort of experience has traditionally been sought Sherpas of Khumbu have become the most prosperous in remote and dramatic landscapes; secret valleys, lofty Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha peaks, and mysterious lakes have inspired spiritual epipha- Khumbu facilities, which typically experience near nies, rapturous travelogues, slideshows and postcards gridlock in high season. The route up the Thame Valley and across Tashi Laptsa pass, however, has been perceived According to local lore, Rolwaling is a beyul, a “hid- as too difficult for most independent trekkers. On the other den valley” plowed out by the tantric saint Padmasambhava hand, if more tourists could conveniently undertake this (also known as Guru Rinpoche) 1,200 years ago to serve trek, it would not only assist in the development of the as a sanctuary for dharma in a future time of intolerance— poorer communities on the Thame side but also meet the a clear reference to the Chinese invasion. Rolwaling’s spe- thirst for challenge and adventure that motivates increas- cial status has meant that Buddhist traditions are taken ing numbers of trekkers. In most cases, Khumbu trekkers more seriously than elsewhere. Religious festivals are fre- have already visited Kala Pattar or Gokyo, and are there- quent and enthusiastically celebrated—not just with tantric fore well acclimated. The problem has been that the route rituals, but singing and dancing late into the night. Cul- requires camping and climbing equipment, as well as a tural conservatism has resulted in ecological conservation.
guide and porters, generally available only through out- Hunting and slaughter have never been acceptable. The fitters located in Kathmandu. Very few independent forests, on the north-facing slopes especially, are essen- Everest trekkers wish to hire a team for their entire Khumbu trek, much less for the Jiri walk-in, both of which are Compared to neighboring Khumbu, Rolwaling’s peaks straightforward and require no special equipment or as- lie somewhat higher in the sacred pecking order. Everest’s sistance. We believe that one solution would be to estab- resident goddess Miyolungsangma is easily trumped by lish an agency in Beding (or in Na, just up-valley) with a Tashi Tseringma (Luck Long-Life-Female), who has an branch in Thame, the westernmost village in Khumbu. This abode atop Jomolhari, the most sacred mountain of west- agency could offer a shuttle service with regularly sched- ern Bhutan, and on Gauri Shankar in Rolwaling—which uled guided crossings. If all the equipment and the per- is also venerated by Hindus as the abode of the great got sonnel were locally available, the cost would be reduced, Shiva in his ascetic form. In addition to Gauri Shankar, and trekkers could conveniently make the decision to take Rolwaling can boast of more than a dozen discrete sacred this route even on the spur of the moment.
sites, including the local pilgrimage route to the sacredlake Omai Tsho (Sacherer 1977).
Like many Himalayan valleys, Rolwaling has rich eth- nobotanical resources. Sacherer (1977, 1979) has eluci- “Bridges to Rolwaling” combines research with volun- dated the vital connection between the flora and spiritu- teer development work. Starting in 1999, we began to bring ality in the consciousness of Rolwaling Sherpas. These in very small international and interdisciplinary teams of plants include those with application as medicinal herbs, students and professionals to collaborate with the people poisons, foods, dyes, incense, forage, fertilizer, and handi- of Rolwaling in designing and implementing plans com- crafts. Many could have economic value if they were col- patible with local needs and opportunities. Students ben- lected (in a sustainable manner) or cultivated. Locally, efit from the opportunity to plan and implement research they could serve the needs of the residents, and they could projects for which they may seek credit at their home uni- also be sold to tourists. HMG has long been interested in versities under the rubric of independent study or intern- promoting the identification and exploitation of such re- ship programs; or they may use their research to jump- sources, and there are many international non-government start research projects for graduate programs. In either case, organizations and pharmaceutical enterprises that would Bridges-PRTD retains the right to use the results of this likely be interested in assisting the project. Clearly, such research in promoting tourism development and also in development would both enhance cultural self-esteem and evaluating the impact of that development. We are also also reinforce the perception of Rolwaling as a sacred committed to ensuring that our database will remain ac- Rolwaling’s assets are, of course, not limited to the sa- Until now, most of our efforts have focused on research.
cred. A significant opportunity may be found in the geo- We have carried out gathered demographic and economic graphical factors that have been seen as limiting con- information, and we are working with anthropologist straints. It is true that Rolwaling lacks an Everest, but many Janice Sacherer Turner to update her unpublished doctoral trekkers would be interested in an alternative route of dissertation, which was the first full-scale study of egress from Khumbu, one that would allow them to avoid retracing their steps and also to avoid the relatively ex- We have also initiated a broad range of development pensive and overbooked flights from Lukla. (As noted projects, based on the desires of local residents and the above, Rolwaling is only a few days’ walk from the road interests and skills of our team-members. These projects at Dolakha or Barabise, from which one can take the bus are intended to expand economic opportunities, whether to Kathmandu for less than three dollars.) At the same time, directly tied to tourism or not. Although our basic objec- this alternative would relieve some of the pressure on tive is to foment independent backpacker tourism, this goal INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS is seen as compatible with efforts to conserve the tradi- to Beding’s schoolhouse, allowing for space heaters tional culture and environmental resources. Those already which will permit operation during all or part of the fall and winter; if this enhancement of the school leadsto further improvements, it could result in less reliance • Waste disposal: In 2002 we helped locate and publi- on boarding schools outside of Rolwaling Valley. En- cize the first official garbage dump at Beding.
hanced local educational opportunities are considered • Gompa restoration: We donated materials and labor to vital in motivating the return of some of the more well- assist in providing a face-lift for Beding gompa (mon- to-do villagers who have relocated in Kathmandu. We expect to install a second plant within a few years which • First aid and hygiene: We held a series of workshops will provide electricity for cooking, mitigating the stress to give instruction in basic hygiene and common medi- cal problems. We also established a small medical dis- Several of our projects aim to develop economic op- pensary that is accessible to both villagers and visitors.
portunities that will make use of the new power source: • Lodge and restaurant development: Until now we have found home-stay accommodations for all Bridges team • Dried foods: There is an excellent opportunity for the members. Last year our team helped four families con- preparation of dried potato products for trekkers. Some vert private lodgings to lodges. While structural modi- items, such as finger chips, could be dehydrated by so- fications have so far been limited, we did help all the lar devices. One item that we feel would be particu- lodges develop English language menus featuring lo- larly marketable, shakpa (“Sherpa stew”), would re- cally available foodstuffs. We also erected lodge signs quire an assist from an electric food dryer.
as well as a centrally located informational kiosk so • Trekking equipment manufacture: Bridges will initiate that independent backpackers would be able to locate a small trekking equipment manufacturing enterprise accommodations. The kiosks also inform tourists of with the “Rolwaling” logo. Light-weight materials will nearby scenic and cultural attractions.
be imported to Rolwaling, where they will be sewn and • Dutch Rock: In 2001 Bridges established a cairn at a marketed locally as well as supplied to Rolwaling-based promontory on the western lip of Tsho Rolpa that we outfitters and trekking agencies. We will start this en- named “Dutch Rock” in recognition of the early and terprise with three mechanical (treadle) sewing ma- persistent efforts of Summit Trekking agency, the Neth- chines, to be replaced later by faster and more efficient erlands-Nepal Friendship Association, and Wavin (the electric machines. A master tailor will be brought from company that manufactured the siphon pipes). We plan Kathmandu to train the equipment makers. In addition, to enlarge the cairn considerably during our next expe- to support the trekking equipment manufacture, we will dition, and we intend to try to position Dutch Rock as a donate two or three computers so that orders and de- sort of terminus (à la Kala Pattar) for the Rolwaling sign modifications can be e-mailed from Kathmandu; trek. This will involve production of posters, t-shirts, this equipment will also be used to begin computer train- and postcards, as well as targeted promotion through ing in Beding. An internet connection will be available guidebooks, news releases, and trekking agencies.
through the telephone to be installed at the Hydrology Somewhere down the line, we would like to convert the cairn to a stupa to celebrate harmony (between hu- • One of our more ambitious projects is Summiters: mans and nature as well as hosts and guests) in the Rolwaling Mountaineering School. Summiters is a col- laborative project, sponsored jointly by Bridges-PRTDand by the Mt. Everest Summiters Club (MESC), a We have also committed ourselves to a panoply of other Nepali non-government organization (NGO) whose projects, most of which are scheduled for implementation thirty members are all Everest summiters from Rolwaling.5 In 2004 Bridges will inaugurate this climb-ing school for tourists in association with the “Bridges • Rolwaling Hydropower Project: We engaged FEED (P) to Rolwaling” program. The school will have two op- Ltd, a Nepali consultancy specializing in hydropower tions. The “Just-Do-It” option will focus on mountain- development, to carry out a feasibility study which re- eering skills, in which experienced Sherpa instructors sulted in plans for the installation of a 3kW Peltric set will share their skills as well as their appreciation of at a waterfall on Jomo’i Gol Chhu, a tributary to the their Himalayan home. The “Heritage Interpretation for Rolwaling River, with its headwaters arising on the Ecotourism Professionals” option will combine this south face of Gauri Shankar. This plant will provide same training with lectures, workshops and exercises lighting for each household in the village, facilitating in the presentation of natural and cultural attractions the education of Rolwaling residents (both children and for tourists. One practical goal will be the design of a adults), as well as for minimal needs of tourists at the visitors’ center and museum, with two themes, lodges. A larger allotment of power will be attributed “Rolwaling, the Sacred Valley,” and “Beding, Cradle Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha of Heroes” (commemorating the exploits of Rolwaling The thing that is holding back the Freak Street renais- climbers). At the same time, the mountaineering school sance is, not surprisingly, money. Tourists these days, un- will serve as a basis for the development of the Tashi like the hippy trailblazers, are relatively demanding. The Laptsa shuttle service mentioned above, and provide comparatively sleek hotels (still unbelievably cheap by the expertise and initial market for “Rolwaling” trek- our standards), the cybercafés, ice cream parlours, and the well-appointed shops have become significant elementsof infrastructure. Rehabilitation of Jhochhen Tole is go- In all these projects, an important principle is that ing to require investment. We think that part of the solu- Bridges-PRTD should own nothing in our development tion is to enable local craftspeople to reach a global mar- area. Instead, we are assisting local entrepreneurs, as well ket without moving to Thamel. That means Internet. How- as the Village Development Committee and the Mt. Everest ever, relatively few of the producers can afford a com- Summiters Club (MESC), in jump-starting enterprises that puter or Internet service. Even telephone service is hard they will carry forward. We are well aware that the Sherpas to come by, requiring a lengthy wait or a large bribe. A of Rolwaling have a broad network of family and rela- credit card merchant account is practically out of the ques- tions in Kathmandu and Khumbu who have the experi- tion for all but the wealthiest—due to the soft currency, a ence and expertise to transform Rolwaling. Our basic task huge deposit is required. Thus, one of Bridges’ projects is to help remove impediments to the kind of independent has been to collaborate with a local producer to develop a backpacker traffic that will be of most economic benefit marketing vehicle for pashmina textiles. Tsering and will also be committed to the protection of those natu- Choekyap, a Tibetan refugee who has been operating a ral and cultural assets that attract them.
foundering trekking shop in Jhochhen Tole, has been able While our primary interest is the mountainous areas, to sell his own products as well as purses and silver jew- the highland-lowland linkages are such that we have had elry made by his neighbors.6 We are now expanding this to expand our scope to include the gateway urban areas.
pilot project into a Durbar Square Bazaar, an e-mall where To give a simple example of the inevitability of the broad any local merchant or producer will be able to market goods approach: we had hoped to develop a project that would overseas with virtually no start-up costs.7 Even a moder- regularly remove non-biodegradable waste from the trek- ately successful effort along these lines will make a huge king area. As it turns out, the garbage processing capabil- impact in the economic resources of the participants, and ity of the urban area is so negligible that it is pointless to will (we hope!) encourage investment and cooperation in transport the waste to Kathmandu. It would just end up community projects to enhance tourism—which, after all, dumped in a river, contributing to a far greater problem is the local market for those same products.
than the one it was meant to solve. Therefore, we becameinvolved in an effort to upgrade the impact of tourism at Garbage In, Garbage Out! We have been working with Tsering Choekyap since 2000 on another project: the Specifically, we are working with the Durbar Square design and production of the “Garbage Out! Bag.” This Tourism Promotion Committee to enhance living condi- is a device that enables trekkers to conveniently carry tions and economic opportunities in a key area of their garbage until they reach an appropriate disposal Kathmandu. This area, which became known as “Freak area. It is currently being marketed by the Kathmandu Street” when hippies hung out there in the 1960s and 70s, Environment Education Project (KEEP).
is actually the cultural heart of Nepal. The area includesthe most important temple district in Nepal, a World Heri- CONCLUDING REMARK
tage Site that is apparently utterly unfunded and unat-tended. The ancient alleys are home to hundreds of By and large, judged on its own terms, Bridges has been craftspeople, among the most skilled silversmiths, weav- successful. Certainly we have created excitement and ers, tailors, carvers, musical instrument makers, and paint- raised expectations among the villagers of Rolwaling.
ers in the world. However, in the last 20 years another However, we have committed ourselves to an ambitious district of Kathmandu has captured virtually all of the Freak array of projects that are still incomplete. This year, we Street’s former clientele. Thamel, an area with virtually have had to cancel our work in Rolwaling due to the Maoist no attractions of its own, has become a tourist enclave, insurgency. Tourism to Nepal in general has dropped dra- bursting with shops, hotels, restaurants, taxis, rickshaws, matically since the massacre of the royal family in June moneychangers, drug pushers, and Tiger Balm hawkers 2001 and the subsequent declaration of a state of emer- catering to the seasonal throngs. Freak Street is virtually gency. This is a reminder that no development project can abandoned, seedy, and economically depressed. The west- pretend to be entirely community-based. Political distur- ern boundary of the area is a river that has become a fecu- bances, global economic depression, and natural disasters lent sewer. And yet it has possibilities, if only because are only a few of the factors that influence tourist arrivals.
Thamel has become so overcrowded that people are ready Many other factors are more susceptible to management for the peace and quiet of a former Mecca.
by the national government and by municipal planners in INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS Kathmandu, the gateway for almost all international tour- tion schedules. (Too often, newspapers in Nepal pub- ism in Nepal. We have recently directed more of our ef- lish articles about events only after they have occurred.) forts toward compiling a blueprint for the promotion of • English signage (especially street signs and transpor- independent tourism that we hope will have some influ- • Opportunities to shop and splurge: while independent backpackers typically are on tight budgets, many en-joy shopping and like to splurge occasionally on fancy PART IV: INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER
meals. High-end restaurants and casinos, especially, ought to understand that backpackers are potential cli-ents. (In Kathmandu, even the most expensive restau- In virtually all domains, mountains are impacted by im- rants such as the Yak and Yeti are well within the means portant highland-lowland linkages, and backpacker tour- of a large proportion of backpackers.) Since many are ism is no exception. In the first place, trekking is only one located at some distance from tourist enclaves such as of many reasons that backpackers travel, and it may not Thamel and Freak Street, they might consider provid- even be the most important. If conditions at the trekking ing free shuttle service. Coupons are remarkably effec- gateways (and even further from the destination) are not tive. In remote destinations, particularly, the develop- conducive to budget travel, much or all of the potential ment of crafts and production of souvenir goods should market will be lost. Even if tourism is a high priority, spe- be a priority. Many locales do not even have decent cific development plans and policies implemented in the postcards. Also, as noted above, many tourists feel com- populated lowlands may favor mass-market tourism at the pelled to bring back gifts for friends and family at expense of trekking opportunities. (A good example is Ti- home—especially around Christmas. Shopping assis- ger Leap Gorge, with its road blasted through the primary tance is a potential tourism service. Since the shopping trekking route.) In many respects, the linkages extend be- activities of tourists (and particularly long-term back- yond even the regional scale. Although tourism is a grow- packers) are constrained by weight and bulk limitations, ing industry, it is still competitive, and new “last best it is essential to develop (and regulate) reliable pack- places” continue to be opened up. And, finally, tourism is ing and shipping services. Specially trained assistance subject to economic and security crises that are played out should be available at the post office.
Second, planners should recognize and mitigate impedi- PROMOTING INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: A
Pollution: uncollected waste in the streets, dirty rivers, Based on our two surveys and on observations in Nepal smog, noise (from air, karaoke, music shops, uncon- since 1974 and in China since 1993, Bridges-PRTD has trolled honking); eliminate plastic bags, plastic water compiled a series of recommendations for the promotion • Double pricing: especially admission fees for tourists First, the hosts at tourism destinations should recog- (generally identified by racist assumptions), but also nize and provide for the interests of independent back- in hotels and transportation; the worst tactic is charg- packers. Under-recognized interests and needs include: ing admission to urban tourist zones.
Hassles: street hawkers, vendors, touts (especially at • Volunteer work. Villages and urban neighborhoods airports, at bus and rail stations; and on buses), beg- should have offices organizing volunteer work—list- gars; hard sell tactics in shops. (Merchants should real- ings of projects suitable for short-term visitors with dif- ize that Western tourists like to browse, and expect to ferent backgrounds and different time constraints. Tasks find fixed prices marked on all goods; they do not gen- could range from garbage collection to temporary in- erally want to be assisted until they ask for assistance.) • Deceptive commerce: prices should be marked and • Study, especially language, but also dance, music, and • Political issues: human rights violations, corruption, • Hanging out: places to sit, read, write, and socialize.
abuse of animals, gender inequity, child labor, oppres- Assets include adequate lighting, comfortable furniture, sion of other countries, saber-rattling.
Travel permits and visa hassles: short terms, renewal • Communication: [cheap and effective] Internet, bulle- tin boards, means to meet other backpackers • Urban entertainment: dances, concerts, public events Third, planners in host nations should foster indepen- • English language media, and especially periodicals with dent backpacking at the global level. Useful, but admit- prior notification of public programs and transporta- Seth Sicroff, Empar Alos, and Roshan Shrestha 1. Publication of well-illustrated periodicals (e.g., Back- • Lack of confidence prevents many prospective trav- pack Nepal!). Contents should include: elers from traveling on their own to remote destina-tions; some turn to commercial tours, but, as noted above, this form of travel is not so advantageous to the host countries and even less so to villagers in • Pertinent academic articles (for instance, on local development projects, culture, and natural history) • Remote destinations need a cheap and effective • Personalities: trekkers, especially, are interested in knowing about local personages (for instance, reli- • Backpackers who meet on the trail lose touch with gious figures, mountain climbers who are running each other, thus foregoing an important return on lodges and restaurants, artists, and so on) their investment and reducing the perception thattravel is an essential part of growing up. Sustained 2. Provision of cheap and reliable air service. The gov- communication with a global network of friends can ernment or tourism associations could sponsor charter motivate further travel as well as promote interna- tional ventures, and it would promote a salutary an- 3. Organize concerts featuring international rock stars as well as local performers. Bridges-PRTD has been try-ing to organize such an event: “Back to Kathmandu” b. Solution: an “Independent Backpacker Alliance,” with would be billed as something of a reunion and celebra- interactive Web site, sponsoring a circuit of regular con- tion of the original “hippies” who put Nepal on the map.
ventions around the world. These IBA conventions Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in reaching Bob Seger, the rock star who composed the genera-tional anthem, “Back to Kathmandu”; however, we • “Country rooms,” where backpackers (past and pro- believe that this event is feasible if the Nepal Tourism spective) could meet to share experiences, show their Board takes an active role … provided, of course, there slides and videos, and reunite in a relaxed atmo- is a resolution of the current Maoist insurgency.
4. Set up innovative tourism offices around the world; • Promotional kiosks: destinations at all scales (na- these should feature extensive gift shops in which items tional down to remote mountain village) could send would be marked with not only the applicable prices representatives, CD-ROMs, or brochures, to inform but also the approximate prices at which similar items could be purchased in the destination country. Tourism • Policy formulation: representatives could be cho- offices should also feature reading rooms and research sen to hammer out position papers, and consult with facilities, and they should sponsor slide shows, films, and other events. Book clubs could be organized, with • Sponsors: equipment manufacturers and other in- meetings at which members would discuss selected terests would find this a target-rich environment for publications and even meet with the authors.
5. Orchestrate a Mountain Tourism Entrepreneurs Corps.
• Web site content and functions: (1) Traveler feed- There is quite a bit of talk about “indigenous knowl- back on destinations and facilities, (2) Information edge” these days, as if traditional medicine and agri- culture constituted the primary intellectual property base • Facilitation of homestays and joint travel of mountain communities. Actually, some of these com-munities have considerable expertise in catering to the international tourism trade. Why not find a way to spon-sor teams of Khumbu and Solu Sherpas, for instance, • Members could help remote destinations prepare in- to go into prospective tourist destinations and assist formational and promotional CD-ROMS, etc., for them in designing infrastructure, managing resources, the Web site and the IBA conventions.
• Members could assist in development of facilities 6. Assist in the organization of an International Backpack CONCLUSIONS
• Backpackers are not currently perceived as a sig- There is no question that tourism will and should con- nificant economic and political force (hence the em- tinue in a variety of forms. We believe, simply, that inde- phasis on “quality tourism,” and the preference for pendent backpackers constitute a market segment that is particularly useful in the development of remote moun- INDEPENDENT BACKPACKER TOURISM: KEY TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN REMOTE MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS tain destinations. Unfortunately, ecotourism has attracted a disproportionate amount of attention from planners at Ecotourism & Certification: Setting Stan-
dards in Practice
. Washington, D.C.: Island
the national and regional level and has become something of an obsession with international agencies. There is no point in trying to suppress the phenomenon of “green- Yulongxue Shan, Northwest Yunnan, People’s wash”: inevitably, tourists will become aware that very Republic of China: A Geoecological Expedition.
few of the agencies promoting “ecotourism” are actually Mountain Research and Development 5 (4):
committed to natural and cultural conservation. The few organizations that do have truly ecosensitive priorities will Environmental and Cultural Changes in the continue to have limited impact. A more useful approach Yulong Xue Shan, Lijiang District, NW Yunnan, is to focus on enhancing those assets and mitigating those China. In Montane Mainland Southeast Asia
liabilities that influence the decisions of backpacker tour- in Transition. Benjavan Rekasem, ed. Pp. 1–16.
Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai University.
ism. In most cases, the changes that ensue will please not only tourists of all sorts but also the residents of the host The Himalayan Dilemma: Reconciling
countries. They will also go a long way toward increasing Development and Conservation. London:
political stability in the host nation and conserving the natural and cultural heritage of our planet.
The Sherpas of Rolwaling Valley, North Nepal:A Study in Cultural Ecology. Ph.D. dissertation,Ecole Pratique des Haute Etudes, Paris.
The High Altitude Ethnobotany of the
Rolwaling Sherpas. Contributions to Nepalese
1. One of the authors, Seth Sicroff, wrote his masters thesis Studies 6 (2): 45–64.
based on this project; for the full text, see http://www.yulong.org.
2. This section is based on Seth Sicroff’s unpublished Mas- ters thesis, “Approaching the Jade Dragon: Tourism in Lijiang, Lijiang County, Yunnan Province, China.
Yunnan, China” (University of California at Davis, 1998). This Masters thesis in Geography, University of thesis synthesizes data collected by the entire YASS-UCD team California, Davis. Electronic document: http:// in 1993 and 1994, in addition to data collect by J. D. Ives in 1985. The principal investigators were Prof. He Yao Hua of YASS, and Prof. Jack D. Ives of UCD; important contributions Biodiversity and Tourism in the Sacred Valley.
came from Yang Fuquan and Feng Zhao; funding came from In Proceedings of the International Sympo-
the Ford Foundation and the United Nations University. Since sium on the Himalayan Environments:
little information about this phase of development in Lijiang Mountain Sciences and Ecotourism/Biodiver-
has been accessible, we have thought it proper to present ex- sity, Kathmandu, 24-27 November 2000. T.
tensive information here in order to allow those working in the Watanabe, Seth Sicroff, N. R. Khanal and M. P.
field to form a more accurate overview of recent events. Inso- far as we do not have current information about many particu- lars, we have resorted to an inconsistent use of present and past tenses in describing recent conditions. For further information, Factors Influencing Rates of Deforestation in 3. Village Development Committee, the lowest level of elect- Lijiang County, Yunnan Province, China: A Village Study. Masters thesis in Geography, 5. Dawa Chhiri Sherpa, General Secretary of MESC, is Di- Taylor, Chris, Robert Storey, Niclo Goncharoff, Michael B.
rector of the Summiters school. Pepper Etters, a member of the Buckley, Clem M. Lindenmayer, and Alan Samagalski Bridges 2001 team, is the Field Manager. For more informa- China: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit.
Ecotourism: Impacts, Potentials and Possibil-
Oxford: Butterworth-Heineman.
Ecotourism. Milton: John Wiley and Sons
Australia, Ltd.
Sacred Mountains of the World. San Fran-
Ecotourism: Principles, Practices and Policies
for Sustainability. Burlington: The Internation-
Tourism Ecolabelling: Certification and
. Wallingford, Oxford: CABI

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PLACES KL Heritage Walk Old High Court Building National History Museum Flanking to Panggung Bandaraya is the Old In front of the old fountain is the National High Court located along the banks of Sungai History Museum. The building was built in 1888 and was once used by the Standard Chartered Bank. Sultan Abdul Samad Building Cross the bridge over Sungai Gombak, and Kuala


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