THE KATHMANDU POST - Asia’s first handicap accessible trail has begun formal operation in Pokhara, Nepal.
The Deurali-Naudanda trail, spanning 1.3 kilometres in length, was inaugurated by Nepalese Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari amid a program in Pokhara on Saturday. The trail, a section of a 14-kilometre-long hiking path connecting Sarangkot to Naudanda offers a magnificent view of Mount Annapurna, Mount Fishtail and Mount Manaslu.
The Nepal Tourism Board built the trail to enhance the prospect of attracting a strong segment of tourists with movement restrictions. NTB’s CEO, Deepak Raj Joshi, said that NTB has taken the initiative to build the trail to add innovation in Nepal’s tourism product and to diversify the trails to generate greater interest among visitors and to ensure that no one is left behind in experiencing the magnificence of Nepal’s beauty. He said this initiative of NTB would help to educate local authorities to develop accessible-friendly infrastructure and activities, promote Nepal globally through this novel message, and inspire the world to build accessible adventure activities.
“We have chosen the trail after a systematic auditing from the Great Himalaya Trail certified trail auditors under the supervision of NTB. We firmly believe this is in tune with the state’s policy to develop new products and to attract untapped but high-end segment of differently abled domestic and foreign visitors”. NTB funded the project with the sum of 1.9 million rupees ($18,240).
Minister Adhikari said, “The trail will be a benchmark of our commitment to tourism and the ministry would look into this to establish it as a model trail in Nepal.”
The trail is well endowed with signage and has washrooms. The concerned authorities have pledged more support in the coming fiscal year to lay down all the standards and facilities to establish the trail as probably the best trail in Asia.
The world has witnessed a boom in handicap accessible tourism recently. The estimated population of accessible segment is 1 billion globally and considered as rapidly growing and one of the niche and high-end segments in tourism.
Tourism is widely seen as a multifaceted sector which improves the living standards of various strata of society. The UN World Tourism Organisation also promotes and advocates tourism as a cross cutting sector to ensure universal achievement of sustainable development goals, SDG.