Since July 2021, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Community Homestay Network have been collaborating to capitalize on community homestay as a brand to rebuild the image and competitiveness of destinations in the Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL). The main objective of this collaboration has been to develop and promote nature and culture-based products and experiences to cater to transboundary niche markets. Even though the partnership started in the middle of the pandemic, we did not want to slow down our efforts to develop and promote community-based tourism in the KL. To begin our partnership/collaboration, we decided to start a pilot project from Kanchenjunga Landscape’s Nepal side due to various travel restrictions.
As a part of this collaboration, various study and product development visits were organized to develop, brand and promote the community homestays in KL-Nepal. These community visits helped CHN to gather area-specific information and insights to inform, co-design and co-develop products and packages for the community homestay circuit around Ilam and to see the potential community homestays around KL-Nepal.
Being involved in community-based tourism for over a decade, CHN has seen only a few famous destinations around Nepal being promoted, resulting in limited benefits for rural indigenous communities. With limited exposure to technology, rural communities’ marketing and promotion cannot harness their diverse culture and landscapes to their full potential, further perpetuating existing inequality between small and big businesses and between mainstream and off the beaten path market. With this experience, as well as understanding the importance of promoting tourism that benefits locals and women directly, ICIMOD and CHN closely worked with communities. Collaborating partners Red Panda Network (RPN), Shree Mabu Dobato Community Homestay and Maipokhari Deurali Community Homestay Management Committee played a crucial role in building resilient communities, homestays and landscape developing circuits within eastern Nepal.
From experience, developing tourism activities in geographically far areas has been challenging due to the significant problem of accessibility from capital and major cities. With this challenging situation, CHN is working to develop and market community homestay circuits that work as a multi-day itinerary connecting different individual destinations and homestays to create a region-specific itinerary. This not only allows individual homestays clustered in the region to provide a joint product but also allows travelers to choose a dedicated multi-day itinerary that provides a full regional experience. Based on these ideas, we have developed a product highlighting the circuit around Ilam and identified nine additional community homestays, which could later be developed into multiple community circuits.
To communicate the development of new tourism products in the less explored eastern Nepal, on World Tourism Day, 27 September 2022, ICIMOD organized a symposium in collaboration with the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and us, Community Homestay Network (CHN). The symposium aimed to highlight the sustainability of tourism in mountain regions as a critical contributor to the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action agendas and innovative solutions as an essential lever in building the resilience of mountain destinations, businesses, and services in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.
From a collaborative partnership perspective, we had the soft launch of our new innovative tourism products: Red Panda Trail and community homestays in KL-Nepal. Along with the trail, CHN also has listed nine community homestays in our website from all the four districts of KL-Nepal. The newly added community homestays are Jaskelo Community Homestay, Shree Mechi Community Homestay, Shree Mabu Dobato Community Homestay, Koldanda Community Homestay, Shree Jamuna Community Homestay, Lalikharka Community Homestay, Gumba Danda Community Homestay, Phalelung Community Homestay, Shree Gorkhe Community Homestay.
Now with the addition of nine community homestays, we have 34 community homestays in our network! Browse the community homestays here