There are only three more months left until the start of Nepal Tourism Year 2011. According to official records Nepal has 735 hotels, 14,272 rooms and 28,485 beds (on per day basis) registered. The prospective tourists who will use these rooms during their stay do not know about access to basic sanitation in the form of latrines in Nepal as there is no data/ information provided on this matter. Food and latrine are equally important for people; this is a proven fact that has to be applied to the tourism sector as well.
The National Tourism Plan has set different goals in order to make Nepal Tourism Year 2011 successful, one of their main aims is to attract one million international tourists and also establish a quarter million new tourist sites. These expected tourists who will visit the different sites will also need to have facilities available for them according to their needs. According to a report released by the Nepal Water Supply and Sewage department, in 2010 alone 106 million people (57 per cent of the population) do not have a latrine in their homes. Nearly half of the total population practice open defecation as they have no other choice. It is imperative that there be the same/equal number of latrines made so that the tourists who are able to use this facility. Tourists also remain unaware about latrine/toilet facilities in Nepal.
The Tourism Plan prepared in 2067 BS determined that by establishing home-stay programmes, local communities in rural and urban areas could take part in income generating programs. However in order to qualify for the home-stay there are certain criteria’s that they must fulfill. One such criteria being that all home-stay participating houses should have a latrine and proper sanitation however it has not been stated anywhere in the policy what the condition of the latrine should be like or how proper sanitation methods will be monitored. It is possible that during the proposed tourism year we might not be able to provide basic sanitation and hygiene facilities adequately/ according to the number of expected tourists.
According to WaterAid Nepal’s calculations if the expected number of a million tourists arrived for the Tourism Year, Nepal would require 77,000 latrines at a minimum. An ordinary pit latrine costs NRS 5000, according to calculations it would require 75 million NRS to make such latrines only. When we look at the figures separated for sanitation by the annual budget we need an additional 39 million. In order to make tourism year 2011 a success we need to double our investment in the sanitation sector.
Within the next 10 years the Government of Nepal hopes to uplift the Nepalese people’s lives through economic growth, stakeholders have tried to bring about development through the tourism industry in Nepal by announcing Tourism Year 2011. This is why it is important that we organise accordingly in the areas of hygiene and sanitation. Although announced a few years ahead little preparation has been made for tourism year and any preparation on hygiene and sanitation is now late. A few years back another Asian nation, Thailand, was also in a dire state as their sanitation and hygiene similar to Nepal. Today Thailand has developed by giving priority to sanitation and hygiene which in turn has helped boost its tourism; the same idea can be applied in Nepal as well.
If basic infrastructures are provided for tourists it will positively contribute towards change in tourism industry. How many tourists should be expected and how we will provide them with basic service has an effect on environmental and other sectors of the industry as well. It can be clearly seen that providing proper access to latrines will contribute towards developing the tourism industry. If assured of having proper latrine facilities tourists will have one less thing to worry about, this can be appealing to tourists who wish to travel.
This is English translation of the article written in Nepali language by Ms Anita Pradhan, Communications Officer at WaterAid in Nepal. The article is published on The Kantipur Daily on 26 October 2010.