Reviving tourism locally

Photo: Devendra Dhungana, UNDP Nepal

Locals from Briddhim VDC in Rasuwa district provide labour to reconstruct a road vital to tourism

Home to the Langtang National Park and the pristine Gosainkunda lake, the mainstay of Rasuwa district is tourism. With 65 percent of the district’s terrain above 3,000 metres, it is one of Nepal’s most visited districts for trekking and hiking.

The April-May earthquakes of 2015 hit Rasuwa particularly hard. The scenic village of Langtang, home to 500 people, was utterly devastated and much of the infrastructure vital to the tourism industry, like roads, hotels and lodges, were damaged or destroyed.

To help revive the tourism industry in Rasuwa, UNDP's Community Infrastructure and Livelihood Recovery Programme (LRP), with assistance from the Government of Mauritius, has started a reconstruction drive to rebuild damaged infrastructures like community buildings, trekking routes, heritage trails and bridges.

“Tourism is vital to our lifestyles,” said Nima Chhiring Tamang, a woman leader from Briddhim VDC in Rasuwa. Locals including Nima recently completed the reconstruction of 4.5-kilometre tourism trail from Bhanjyang Gumba to Langmale of Briddhim in 45 days. This section of the road is a crucial part of the foot trail to a popular Langtang valley. This trail cuts short the trekking route to Langtang valley by an hour and the road is much easier for trekkers. Moreover, people no longer need to pass through the treacherously steep and difficult Bhanjyang-Surkha-Malmalekharka section of the road.

“Earlier, trekkers often got lost in the alpine jungle. So many sub-trails were created along the route. There were no signposts along the road and the steep climb of Surkha and Malmalekharka prompted trekkers to take alternative roads through other VDCs," said Sarki Tamang, one of 30 villagers who worked on the road construction.

The new trail from Bhanjyang Gumba to Langmale is an example that recovery projects can be successfully completed even when the seed money does not fully finance the reconstruction work. Because this road would help bring in more tourists to Briddhim, people volunteered their own time and efforts to construct the road themselves.

Voluntary labour contribution amounted to half a million rupees, in addition the Rs 380,270 received from UNDP/LRP and NRs 200,000 received from the Hariyo Ban Programme. 

The construction of the Bhanjyang Gumba to Langmale trail is one of the 25 community infrastructures and 15 livelihood promotion activities supported by UNDP/LRP to revive tourism infrastructures and restore livelihoods in Rasuwa. LRP has worked in partnership with Manekor Society, a local NGO, to facilitate and fund community initiatives worth over Rs 13 million rupees.

Now that the construction of the trail is complete, the villagers are hopeful that more visitors will pass through Briddhim and in return, will bring more business.

“UNDP/LRP’s encouragement and assistance has been invaluable,” said Tulasi Ram Lamichhane, a UN Volunteer engineer embedded in the community, helping them build more quake-resilient infrastructure. “The people-led recovery approach, where beneficiaries themselves play a role in selecting and implementing projects as per their needs, is a great example of community ownership and meaningful participation.”

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