Accessible Trekking Trail– Nepal
The pioneer Accessible Trekking Trail Nepal developed at the initiation of Nepal Tourism Board falls in between Himalayan Deurali Resort, Naudanda, Kaskikot of Annapurna Village, and Deurali of Pokhara in Lekhnath Metropolitan City. The Accessible Trekking Trail Nepal aims to promote and ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations or disabilities of age.
This fairly moderate 1.24 km length and 6 feet width trail is built at an elevation of 1,600 meters in a peaceful and pristine natural atmosphere and perched on the northwest of Pokhara. The trail offers a panoramic view of Mt. Dhaulagiri and across Mt. Annapurna to Mt. Manaslu. The trail route audited by Great Himalaya Trails is specially designed for wheelchair users, senior citizens, and slow walkers. There are signposts, basic infrastructures, etc. throughout the trail to ensure visitors’ safety and enhancement of their trip experience.
The first tourism conference on accessible tourism was held in March 2018 in Kathmandu and Pokhara by more than 200 delegates in order to promote accessible holidays. The delegates included representatives from global communities of the disabled.
Statistics also say that the accessible tourism market, although under-served, will account for 25% of total tourism spending by 2020. Looking forward to just a few years, the proportion of people with disabilities will only continue to rise, given the general aging of the population. The retiring Baby Boomer generation in western countries, in particular, will have a significant impact on the tourism market: they will control 50 percent of total tourism spending, 40 percent of them will have some form of disability, and by 2020, 25 percent of total worldwide tourism spending will be by travelers with a disability (McKinsey, 2007).
The market for accessible tourism is large and continues to grow. With the growing life expectancy worldwide, the tourism industry will get more seniors/ elderly travelers with less mobility. By promoting inclusive tourism, Nepal can attract such travelers in significant numbers.
This is an untapped market for Nepal with proper infrastructure and information. Nepal has the full potential to boost numbers as well as revenue from this market. To tap this market, the focus should be placed on making sure that the tourism industry realizes the potential and works to facilitate tourism in Nepal more accessible. Therefore a little investment in infrastructure modification is of utmost importance here. Hotels and roads should be encouraged to construct curbs to make movement in them more accessible. Similarly, the construction of curbs should also be promoted and encouraged in parks, museums, and roads in tourist areas to facilitate accessible tourism. Accessible toilets are also essential in tourist areas and accommodation places.
Trekking areas that are branded as accessible should be graded and tourist services on such trekking trails should have services that are accessible to all. Also, information must be present in all such areas on the various aspects of the visit.
According to the Division for Social Policy and Development under the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, the impact of accessible trekking trails in Nepal goes beyond the tourist beneficiaries to the wider society, ingraining accessibility into the social and economic values of society.