Kishan Datta Bhatta* - Department of Urban Planning and Design,The University of Hong Kong
Dr. Roger CK Chan - Department of Urban Planning and Design,The University of Hong Kong
Ecotourism has been widely advocated as an integral means to promote sustainable development in the developing countries. It is, theoretically, portrayed as a benign approach that enhance community well-being by providing socio-economic opportunities to indigenous communities, and conserving the resources through environmental awareness and education to the stakeholders including the tourists. Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) is an example of Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) in Nepal which has adopted ecotourism development as one of the key strategies to reduce poverty, protect heritage resources, and promote community development in the rural settlements. The rapid growth of tourism, in addition to providing some benefits, has induced several negative impacts on the local communities and environmental resources (Nepal, 2003; Nyaupane &Thapa, 2004). In this regard, the sustainability of ecotourism development in ACA has been questioned.
Using the framework of sustainable ecotourism planning, this paper examines the ecotourism policies and their effectiveness in delivering benefits to local communities, conserving local resources, and satisfying the tourists. The Settlements along the Annapurna Sanctuary Trail, such as Dhampus, Landruk and Ghandruk villages, have been selected for the detail examination. It employs multiple methods of data collection, and uses both qualitative and quantitative approach of analysis. Backed by the interview with local leaders and policy makers; household's survey from the villages; discussion with tourists; and observation of authors, this paper analyses the existing situation of ecotourism and sustainable community development in ACA, and discusses on the future direction for sustainable ecotourism.