International Conference on Accessible Adventure 2018

Published on: April 18, 2018

CIL-Kathmandu was very happy to be an organising partner for Nepal’s inaugural International Conference on Accessible Adventure which was held at Hotel Shangri-la in Pokhara from March 29-31.

The landmark three-day conference brought together examples and learnings of international best practice in inclusive tourism for seniors and travellers with disabilities and was attended by 150 delegates from 10 different countries.

A highlight of the conference was the historic launch of Nepal’s very first accessible trekking trail, which was unveiled by Tourism Minister, Honourable Rabindra Adhikari, on the final day of the conference.

The 1.24km trail running from Deuarali to Nauudanda has been modified with handrails and a widened smoothed path to be suitable for wheelchair users, senior citizens and walkers with mobility limitations. The trail includes an accessible bathroom and offers stunning panoramic views of Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Annapurna and Mt. Manaslu as well as a tranquil forest setting.

The conference further made history by announcing March 30 as the new annual ‘Tourism for All’ day – a day to focus on progress and the importance of accessibility in the tourism industry in Nepal.

The commitment was supported by Honourable Prithavi Subba Gurung, Chief Minister of Province 4 and Honourable Bikash Lamsal, Tourism Minister for Province 4 with Honourable Subba Gurung declaring that accessibility and disability friendly considerations will be incorporated into the many tourism development projects being prioritised under his supervision.

CIL-Kathmandu’s own President, Mr Ganesh KC, featured on a panel during the second day of the conference, discussing the needs of accessible tourism consumers.

Other key speakers and guests at the conference included; Mr Deepak Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board; Ms Yankila Sherpa, the former Minister of Culture and Tourism; Mr John Heather, co-chair of ICAA and sustainable tourism expert from International Development Institute Mr Scott DeLisi, former Ambassador of USA and current Mayor of Philadelphia; Mr Shaurab Sharma, Nepal’s Senior Program Manager of CBM International as well as a number of additional key government officials and tourism enthusiasts from across Asia.

Renaud Meyer, UNDP Country Director identified inclusive tourism as both a human rights issue and an opportunity for economic development in Nepal and congratulated conference organizers on their efforts to advocate for inclusivity within the travel industry, confirming the UNDPs continuing position as a champion for accessible tourism in Nepal.

Participants also heard from keynote speaker, Corporal Hari Budha Magar. Mr. Magar is a Gurkha war veteran who lost both his legs in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2010. Mr Magar aims to be the first double above-knee amputee to summit Mt Everest as part of his ‘Conquering Dreams’ tour in 2019.

It is hoped the conference will be the catalyst to lead to improved tourism infrastructure, facilities and services and provide new opportunities for people with mobility challenges for employment and experiencing Nepal’s tourism wonders.

It was an honour for CIL-Kathmandu to participate in the organisation and implementation of the conference and we are excited to see the accessible tourism movement progress in Nepal.