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Community-Based Tourism Project in Sauraha, Nepal

Community-based tourism (CBT) is not just about offering tourism services but about creating a sustainable and integrative approach to tourism that involves and benefits the local community directly. This case study focuses on Sauraha, a small village on the edge of Nepal's Chitwan National Park, which has successfully leveraged its proximity to natural wonders and local Tharu culture to develop a thriving CBT project.

Sauraha, once a quiet village with limited economic opportunities, found itself at the crossroads of economic development with the rise of tourism due to its close location to Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, the initial boom in tourism was concentrated in the hands of a few, not benefiting the larger community until the introduction of CBT.

The CBT initiative in Sauraha was spearheaded by a collaboration between local leaders, non-governmental organizations, and tourism experts. The project was designed with the dual goals of enhancing local livelihoods and promoting environmental conservation.

Community Engagement and Training

Local Involvement:

  • Community Meetings: Organized weekly, these meetings served as platforms where concerns about tourism impacts and opportunities were discussed. For example, the community deliberated on how to manage tourist foot traffic to minimize disturbance during local festivals.

  • Feedback Systems: Implementation of suggestion boxes around the village and online surveys enabled tourists and residents to provide ongoing feedback on the tourism services.

Skills Training:

  • Hospitality Management: A partnership with a local hotel school offered six-month courses in hospitality, focusing on customer service, food safety, and accommodation management.

  • Guided Tour Operations: Training programs were set up with conservationists to educate guides on the local flora and fauna, emphasizing ethical wildlife interactions and safety measures.

  • Conservation Practices: Workshops on sustainable practices like waste reduction and water conservation were conducted by environmental NGOs.

Development of Local Governance Structures

Establishment of a Community Committee:

  • Roles and Responsibilities: The committee included roles such as a treasurer to manage the finances transparently, a marketing head to handle promotions, and a training coordinator to oversee ongoing skill development.

  • Monthly Review Meetings: These meetings assessed the progress of tourism activities, discussed community concerns, and adapted strategies as needed.

Sustainable Practices:

  • Waste Management Protocols: Introduced biodegradable packaging for food products sold to tourists and set up designated recycling points throughout the village.

  • Wildlife Interaction Guidelines: Created strict guidelines for safari tours, including maintaining a safe distance from animals, prohibiting feeding of wildlife, and minimizing noise pollution.

Creation of Sustainable Tourism Products

Cultural Exhibitions:

  • Tharu Cultural Show: A nightly event showcasing traditional Tharu dance and music, which also includes narratives explaining the history and significance of the performances.

  • Craft Workshops: Tourists can participate in workshops where they learn to make traditional Tharu items like woven baskets and pottery, which they can take home as souvenirs.

Wildlife Safaris:

  • Elephant Safaris: Conducted early morning to minimize disturbances, these safaris are guided by locals trained in elephant behavior and conservation.

  • Bird Watching Tours: Specialized tours guided by local ornithologists that educate tourists on the region’s diverse avian species and their habitats.

Marketing and Partnerships

Promotion Strategies:

  • Online Presence: Development of a community-operated website that features real-time availability of local homestays, cultural events, and booking options for tours and workshops.

  • Social Media Campaigns: Regular posts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, showcasing daily village life, wildlife sightings, and tourist testimonials to attract a global audience.


  • Eco-Tourism Networks: Joining networks such as The International Ecotourism Society to gain insights into best practices globally and receive certifications that enhance credibility.

  • Local Universities: Collaborations with academic institutions for research on the impacts of tourism and development of new sustainable tourism practices.

These specific examples demonstrate the comprehensive approach taken by Sauraha to develop and sustain its community-based tourism initiative, ensuring that it not only boosts local economic growth but also fosters environmental stewardship and cultural preservation.


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