Hospitality industry is flourishing around the national park
With the expansion of eco-tourism based tourism activities, national parks have started to be established as an alternative source of income.
The government has given permission to operate hotels, resorts and homestays to provide tourist services in the intermediate zone.
The busiest national parks in Nepal are Chitwan and Bardiya. The Office of the Auditor General has conducted a study on these two national parks for environmental audit in the fiscal year 2078 BS.
According to the study, these national parks have been very helpful in Nepal’s tourism and foreign exchange earnings. At the same time, the conflict between humans and wildlife has become a major problem. Activities such as hotels, homestays, jeep safaris, elephant safaris, camping, rafting and stone sawing are in operation around Nikunj.
Chitwan National Park is the third major tourist destination in terms of foreign tourist arrivals. Kathmandu is in the first place and Pokhara is in the second place. Before the outbreak of the corona virus, Chitwan had welcomed 78,755 tourists from third countries (excluding SAARC) in a single year.
It is estimated that 5,000 foreign tourists have visited Bardiya National Park in a year. According to the data provided by Chitwan National Park, a total of 182,435 domestic and foreign tourists have visited the park in the fiscal year 2076-77 BS. Of these, 14,239 tourists are from SAARC countries.
Meanwhile, Bardiya National Park has welcomed a total of 15,260 domestic, SAARC and foreign tourists in a year. Even the accountant general has said that tourist arrivals in the parks have been increasing even before the Kovid 19 epidemic.
The accountant general has mentioned that the tourism activities in the protected area should be for the protection of biodiversity, help in improving the living standard of the local people, promotion of local culture and use of local products. According to the Hotel Standards 2070, tourist resorts should be opened away from densely populated areas. Sewage and garbage cannot be mixed in open water.
But the human-wildlife conflict is growing
Studies have shown that human activities increase near the intermediate zone, and the risk increases due to lack of food as the number of wildlife in the park increases. According to the Auditor General’s Environmental Audit Report, when natural habitats are disturbed, there is a lack of adequate habitat and food, and wildlife are moving out of their areas in search of shelter and food. When wild animals come out, there is not only damage to crops but also human damage.
The people around Nikunj have been attacked by wild animals even in search of vegetables, grass, firewood, mushrooms and niguros, he said, adding that public awareness should be increased to prevent such incidents.
The failure to increase the monitoring of hotels, resorts and homestays in the Nikunj area has also posed a risk to eco-tourism. According to the report, tourism and conservation related programs have not been implemented to increase sustainable and environment friendly tourism activities.
The report also concludes that buckets have not been placed on the river bank to manage solid waste. Stating that local food, costumes and language are not used in these resorts and hotels, the report also expressed concern that it would lose its originality. It has been seen that food and vegetable products have not been used at the local level.