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MAST-Nepal project (Marketing Assistance for Sustainable Tourism) Impact Assessment

September 2010

Report prepared by Kristie Drucza Gender, social inclusion and governance adviser for business development SNV. This report reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of SNV.

Acknowledgements Thank you to all the businesses who participated in this impact assessment, for honestly answering my questions and generously giving their time to look back and reflect on the MAST project. Discussions on the nature of Nepals tourism industry were enlightening. While this assessment focuses on the project, the crucial role the businesses and individuals who participated in MAST played must be acknowledged as assisting to make the project so successful.

Table of Contents
Executive Summary............................................................................................3 1. 2. Project Background ............................................................................................5 3. Scope and Methods ............................................................................................5 4. Limitations of the Assessment..............................................................................6 5. Participating Companies ......................................................................................6 6. Results..............................................................................................................7 6.1 Innovation.........................................................................................................8 6.2 MAST Change Agents..........................................................................................8 6.3 Methodological Approach ................................................................................... 10 6.4 Supply Chain Capacity Building and Management ................................................. 10 6.5 Action Plans..................................................................................................... 11 6.6 MAST Pillars..................................................................................................... 12 6.6.1 Environmental Pillar .................................................................................. 12 6.6.2 Economic Pillar ......................................................................................... 13 6.6.3 Socio-Cultural Pillar................................................................................... 13 6.7 Attitude to Business.......................................................................................... 15 6.8 Marketing ........................................................................................................ 15 6.8.1 Code of Conduct and Responsible Policy....................................................... 15 6.8.2 How to Deal with International Tour Operators ............................................. 16 6.8.3 How to Develop Marketing Material ............................................................. 17 6.8.4 How to Position Yourself in the Market ......................................................... 17 6.8.5 How to Sell Responsible Travel ................................................................... 17 7. Attribution and Impact Figures ........................................................................... 18 7.1 Overheads....................................................................................................... 19 7.2 Profits & New Business...................................................................................... 19 7.3 Indirect Beneficiaries ........................................................................................ 20 8. Summary of Impact Figures............................................................................... 22 9. Recommended Improvements............................................................................ 22 9.1 Course Content ................................................................................................ 22 9.2 Business Management ...................................................................................... 23 9.3 Selection Processes .......................................................................................... 23 9.4 Marketing Incentives ........................................................................................ 23 9.5 Issues in Course............................................................................................... 23 9.6 Location of Training Program ............................................................................. 24 9.7 Follow Up Assistance......................................................................................... 24 10. Recommendations for MAST Phase II .................................................................. 24 10.1 Longer and More Sustainable Project ................................................................... 24 10.2 Policy Change & Government of Nepal (GoN) ........................................................ 24 10.3 Technical Aspects of Environmental Management .................................................. 25 10.4 Business Processes ............................................................................................ 26 10.5 Certification ...................................................................................................... 26 10.6 International Marketing ...................................................................................... 26 11. MAST Has Immense Potential for the Local Economy ............................................ 27

1. Executive Summary
In general the MAST project can be regarded as a win-win sustainable business development project. Businesses gained immense benefits and so did their staff, the local people, the environment, and the Nepalese economy either directly or indirectly from the project. The project focused on capacity building and had a sound methodological approach that motivated participants and stimulated innovation. Two years after the project finished participating businesses are convinced that responsible travel makes sense. All participating businesses cited multiple benefits from the MAST project that can be broadly grouped into the following categories: Improved business attitude; learning the benefits and value of being responsible; becoming more client focused and asking for feedback; improved organisation/planning skills; how to position your business in the market; how to develop responsible tourism products; a more developed meaning of responsible travel and sustainability; the value of marketing material development; the benefits of E-communication; the importance of motivating staff; supply chain management; how and why to teach others about the environment; how networking and collaboration is important for business; new business ideas and inspiration; and, decreased operating costs. To summarise some of the impact figures: Six MAST companies reduced overhead costs; ten companies were clearly able to make a link between increased client numbers, new business and the MAST project: Balthali Village Resort has an additional 400 guests per year. Ghalegaun Village Resort has 40 more international tourists and 250 additional Nepali tourists per year. Himalayan Encounters attracts an extra 70 tourists per year. Rhino Resorts receive 25% of new business from other MAST participants and since the MAST project ended has an extra 20% of European clients per year. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking attributes a 10% increase in business to MAST. Mowgli's Eco Adventure Tours attributes 50% of new business to MAST. USD20,000 increase in profit for one business from MAST contacts and USD168, 000 increased spend on local services and products. Everest Resort receives an additional USD3, 000 profit per annum.

And, all participants cited multiple indirect benefits including: Dream Nepal Travel and Tours spent an additional USD1, 640 on the local economy. The Last Resort spent USD16, 400 on local produce in 2009 that used to be purchased in Kathmandu. Everest Resort spent USD6, 850 on local products for hotel refurbishing and spend approximately USD70 per week on local produce that used to be purchased in Kathmandu. Balthali Village Resort built the first road to Balthali and pays local guides USD70 - 140 per month and local dancers USD27 54 per performance. Dhulikhel Mountain Resort has generated USD6, 850 income for the local dance troop which has secured higher education opportunities for the dancers. Rhino Resorts also through a local dance show generates between USD41 205 in income for local people. Ghalegaun Village Resort has educated approximately 5000 Nepali students on environmental conservation and tourism benefits and 15 honey hunters on bee ecology and sustainable harvesting. The Last Resort has educated approximately 500 internationally wealthy students on Nepali culture and lifestyle. Manang Tours and Travels employed 3 new staff to manage the new responsible product he developed after MAST. Collectively MAST companies have deliberately introduced 15 women into the male dominated tourism industry through employment.

Participants were overwhelmingly in favour of a second phase MAST project and made the following recommendations: make the next project longer; focus on the enabling environment

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for responsible tourism by building the capacity of key sector players for improved responsible tourism governance (regulation and policy); create appropriate incentives within business processes that promote sustainable responsible behaviour; introduce more technical solutions for environmental impact reduction; have a larger marketing component that not only incentivises responsible behaviour but educates businesses on how to market responsible travel; and, include the introduction of a Nepali managed internationally credible responsible travel certification scheme. Additionally, baseline data collection of business figures and marketing should be mandatory in any phase II project to assist with credible impact data. Given the limited impact figures available the return on investment for MAST is estimated at more than quadruple (when considering business profit increases, overhead reductions and money spent on local products) showing the viability of a phase II. With additional focus on ongoing mentoring, multi-actor change processes and what is required to secure business from international tour operators, a second phase MAST project has immense potential for the local economy and local businesses, especially in terms of the economic flow-on affect evident from the first MAST project.

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2. Project Background
The Marketing Assistance to Nepal for Sustainable Tourism Products (MAST-Nepal) Project was funded by the European Commission (ASIA INVEST) and was managed and administered by the Division for Technology, Industry and Economics within the United Nations Environment Projectme (UNEP). SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) were implementing partners. The project was implemented between August 2006 June 2008 and had a total budget of USD379,384 made up of USD355,005 from the European Commission (EC) and USD24,378 inkind support from the three partners UNEP, SNV and NTB. The project was designed to expand business opportunities for tourism entrepreneurs (from tour operators to hotels) in Nepal by building their capacity to develop and deliver responsible tourism products, understand how to market themselves as a responsible travel company and by linking them to the European sustainable tourism market. In many ways marketing incentives were used to encourage behaviour change towards more responsible business practices. Four training events were held. The first focused on the principles of sustainability and developed action plans for sustainable practices within their company. The second reinforced the principles behind sustainable business operations and finalized action plans. The third focused on building capacity to market sustainable tourism products and the forth connected the companies with the global sustainable tourism market but mainly focused on the European market allowing MAST-Nepal companies to pursue business linkages after project completion. Only companies who were committed to their action plans were invited to participate in the third and fourth training events. This resulted in 23 out of the original 30 companies completing the project. For the MAST project responsible tourism practices involve 3 key areas: economic - increase tourism benefits to the poor and improve the livelihoods of the Nepalese people environmental - minimize tourism related environmental damage socio-cultural preserve and promote the local socio-cultural lifestyle. The project had three specific objectives: a) To build capacity within tourism intermediaries in Nepal on development of more sustainable tourism products. b) To improve the marketing of sustainable tourism products by tourism companies in Nepal and Europe. c) To raise awareness in Nepal and Europe for industry, public authorities and civil society on the benefits and tools to develop, implement and market sustainable tourism activities. An impact assessment was completed directly after the project finished and cited successful benefits. However, marketing and private sector development projects can have an impact lag time of at least two years. It can take a business that long to realise profit or other benefits. So another impact assessment was conducted two years after project completition between June and July 2010.

3. Scope and Methods


The purpose of this impact assessment was to get a sense of any long-term benefits for direct or indirect beneficiaries from the MAST Nepal project two years after completion. In what ways have MAST participants benefited from the project and has the project produced sustainable results? After some initial desk research and survey development, businesses were asked a number of questions that focused on the action plans developed under the MAST project; what were businesses still doing, what additional responsible practices has the business adopted, and

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what had stopped or changed and why. Businesses were also asked about market linkages and if MAST had assisted to develop these. As SNV would like to secure funding for a MAST Phase II, the business interviews were also used to collect information on the businesses perceptions (with hindsight) of the MAST project and what they would like to see improved or included in a second phase project. The results of the business interviews are to be used for: This impact assessment A documentary film profiling responsible tourism in Nepal 5 minute You-tube videos for the MAST Nepal website and for business promotion Case studies of the businesses Media and other marketing promotional activities Proposal for a MAST Phase II.

4. Limitations of the Assessment


Undertaking an impact assessment two years after project completion has some benefits as well as some weaknesses. Many companies enjoyed being able to reflect on the project and found their initial perceptions of the project had changed with time. Those who were initially critical reflected on how much they had learnt and how MAST had made some permanent changes to their company, approach and mindset. However, some businesses had lost the participating staff member to other employment and were unable to answer many questions and others had forgotten commitments made or what they had learnt from the project and what they learnt elsewhere. Additionally, a number of companies found it difficult to isolate MAST impacts from other influences. In short, the impact assessment findings have an unnatural bias towards participants with good memories and record keeping methods and the most interested and responsible companies. All 23 participating companies were contacted for this impact assessment. Bandipur Village Resort was un-contactable and Gangotri Tours and Travels and Raaika Tours and Travel had a complete staff turnover and ownership so were unable to participate in this assessment. An additional company, Responsible Treks, was interviewed for this assessment because it is a new company started by the MAST participant from Highlander Trekking & Expedition. 3 interviews were conducted over bad telephone lines and 18 were in person. Only 4 indirect beneficiaries were interviewed due to time and resource constraints. Verifying information and data triangulation was not used.

5. Participating Companies
A wide range of tourism companies from trekking to rafting, bird watching tours to biking expeditions, cultural heritage excursions to jungle safaris, and luxury hotel accommodation to village home stays all with varying degrees of sustainable business capacity participated in the MAST project. Eight businesses started their company less than ten years ago, seven businesses started their company less than twenty years ago, three businesses started their company less than twenty years ago, while three had been operating for more than twenty years. MAST participating company names appear below: Amazing Tours and Travels Tours and Travels Balthali Village Resort Bandipur Village resort (unable to get in contact for this assessment) Dhulikhel Mountain Resort Dream Nepal Travel and Tours Travel and tours Eco Trek International Gangotri Tours and Travels (New owner. MAST participants have left. Did not participant in assessment.) Ghalegaun Village Resort Highlander Trekking & Expedition Himalayan Encounters

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Last Resort Manang Tours and Travels Mowgli's Eco Adventure Tours Naulo Travels Nepal Mountain Bike Tours Raaika Tours And Travels (MAST participants have left. Did not participant in assessment.) Rhino Resorts Social Tours Syangboche Panaroma Resort (Everest Resort) Explore Nepal Pty. Ltd. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking Tiger Mountains Ultimate Descent Pty. Ltd.

6. Results
The following sections try to segregate and elaborate on some of the main results and benefits of the MAST project as articulated by the participating businesses two years after the project was completed. Quotes are used from the businesses interviewed where possible to better capture the participants views. In some instances, quotes are anonymous as per request from the business. In general the MAST project can be regarded as a win-win sustainable business development project. Businesses gained immense benefits and so did their staff, the local people, the environment, and the Nepalese economy either directly or indirectly from the project. Two years later participating businesses are convinced that responsible travel makes sense: Amazing Tours and Travels explains, MAST taught us to be responsible because it is important and because we should give to the community but in fact we are responsible because it is good for business. The communities are there and so we exist. Helping them ensures our sustainability. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking suggests that, Everyone does business for their living so why not combine it with helping others? It doesnt cost much. As a human being we should try our best to improve. Everest Resort articulates, If we do business we should respect others and if possible we have to create income for others also. If we are more responsible then it creates satisfaction for ourself. If we try to sell something without responsibility then it is not long lasting. Also tourists like us being sustainable. All participating businesses cited multiple benefits from the MAST project that can be broadly grouped into the following categories: Improved business attitude; learning the benefits and value of being responsible; becoming more client focused and asking for feedback; improved organisation/planning skills; how to position your business in the market; how to develop responsible tourism products; a more developed meaning of responsible travel and sustainability; the value of marketing material development; the benefits of E-communication; the importance of motivating staff; supply chain management; how and why to teach others about the environment; how networking and collaboration is important for business; new business ideas and inspiration; and, decreased operating costs. The graph below categorises these benefits and lessons according to frequency of the lesson/benefit appearing in participants answers.

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Benefits & Lessons Learned From MAST


Decreased operating costs New ideas/inspiration Networking & collaboration Environment teaching Supply chain management Motivating staff E communication Value of marketing Developed meaning of RT Product development Positioning in the market Organisation/planning skills Client/feedback focused Benefits & value of being responsible Attitude to business 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16

MAST had 23 participants but was hopeful that it would affect the broader tourism industry in Nepal so that the projects benefits would be wider than just among the direct recipients. This impact assessment collected evidence that an environment for responsible travel has been stimulated in Nepal. 6.1 Innovation

One indicator of a project affecting broader change in an industry occurs when businesses who have not participated in the project begin to show traits or copy the behaviours of those who have participated. Four MAST companies (without prompting) proudly commented that they have noticed other non-MAST companies copying what they do in terms of responsible behaviour, most particularly associated with working with local communities and environmental education. Another three companies (without prompting) mentioned that they have noticed other companies their competitors - now positioning themselves as responsible in the marketplace. To the disappointment of the MAST participants these other companies are not displaying any responsible behaviour. They are merely using the term responsible as a marketing gimmick because they noticed that MAST participants are attracting more business. The fact that other businesses are copying MAST participants is evidence of the replicability and usefulness of MAST to the marketplace. It shows that MAST companies are regarded as innovators and that a responsible travel approach is worthy of imitation or copying. When a project indirectly influences market actors, aside from direct beneficiaries and their targeted beneficiaries, it can be regarded as having successfully influenced the wider sector or market. Other examples illustrating how MAST has stimulated the environment for responsible travel in Nepal appear in the following sections. 6.2 MAST Change Agents

Every development project has to make certain assumptions about the socio-cultural reality during planning and often during implementation. What a capacity building project tries to achieve is that knowledge passed onto participants is adapted by those participants to suit their local reality. Participants begin to own the knowledge and make it work for them. This process of local adaptation leads to more culturally appropriate social change that is sustainable.

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When it comes to capacity building projects such as MAST a key objective is to identify participants that have the potential to influence others. These motivated actors become change agents that maximise project impact by continuing to spread the projects messages and philosophy in their own way. In the Responsible Treks case study below Chhewang has become a change agent for responsible travel. Responsible Treks - case study
Chhewang N. Lama participated in MAST when he worked at Himalayan Encounters and says it was eye opening. He learnt many things from MAST such as: Branding, marketing, photography and displays, how to develop brochures and website, how to integrate responsible practices and policies into business, how to participate in tourism fairs, and how to develop products that benefit the local community. He says, MAST helped me learn how to market my new business and to name it. Our core policy is to be seen favorably by the communities in which we work and we just want to help them. He has deliberately selected a diverse workforce for his new enterprise and recruited locally. He explains that, In Nepal we have lots of problem in terms of income distribution, the environment and cultural preservation. If I hire local porters then I help with social problems. You can see when you do a trek how we are helping by employing local people and by using different villages to stay in rather than just sticking to the main tourist trail. I get a lot of satisfaction and pride from this. If you help one of the poorest places you contribute to Nepal's development. Chhewang has had to invest a lot in training his new staff such as sending his two female office staff to Humla for a trek but believes it is worth it. He is also educating them on responsible travel so they are better able to sell his packages and understand his companys philosophy. His guides are environmentally aware and they speak to the cook, etc and spread the message. He explains that MAST taught him the importance of good communication in business so that everyone is giving and receiving the same message. He says, We are all more aware of the environment thanks to MAST. Our guides now check that the rubbish has been cleaned from a camp site they do not just believe the word of porters because it is too important to get wrong. He also has some business partnerships with other MAST companies which are helping him establish his business. Chewwang is focusing on making his supply chain responsible about the environment by selecting hotels who support the local community and believe in preserving the environment, and by educating his suppliers. He wanted to start his own business so that he wasnt limited in what he could achieve. He has become a firm believer and advocate for responsible travel.

The Dream Nepal Alliance case study below is another illustration of MAST choosing appropriate participants who use their initiative to influence others after the project finished. Dream Nepal Alliance case study
Bijaya Pradhan had been a member of the Sustainable Tourism Network in Nepal prior to MAST but was always disappointed that the network did not function well. The MAST project inspired him to form his own alliance with a common code of conduct based on the three pillars of MAST: environment, economy and socio-cultural. The alliance involves 3 hotels, 2 travel companies, 1 rafting company plus restaurants. Bijaya has trained them and their staff on how to comply with the code of conduct. He explains, We have all reduced our paper and electricity consumption and now use more electronic files. I like teaching other people the benefits of being responsible. For Bijaya the main thing he learned from MAST was about marketing. When you market in Europe there are a lot of conditions to fulfil to get business. I taught all alliance members this aspect of the European market. Now together we are stronger and get more business. We have worked out our strengths. I used to do everything my business needed before but now I outsource different aspects of my business to alliance members and they do the same for me. I now do all the marketing for all these members. I of course use the responsible travel marketing tips I learnt during MAST as an added value for marketing the alliances products. The alliance saves me money.

Seven MAST companies have consciously tried to influence other businesses to become responsible, and a further ten have networked with other responsible companies in some way since MAST. These companies cited the benefit of networking as one of the main lessons learnt from MAST along with the awareness that responsibility does not stop and start with them they also need to be responsible for the inputs, overheads and partners involved in running their business. Participant selection is crucial to affecting wider change in a sector or market

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because participants need to see role models in action to capture their imagination and confidence that they too can do more. 6.3 Methodological Approach

While choosing the right participants is important for a sustainable capacity building project so is the methodological approach adopted. It is easier to encourage participants to go on and implement new things after a project than it is to create an environment where failures and mistakes are not roadblocks to innovation. Learning collaboratively along with facilitating collective critical reflection and discussion is said to support innovation. According to the Last Resort MAST was successful in this regard, SNV allowed us to be critical and we realized how much we learnt from the MAST project even though we were sceptical at first. I realize that I learnt a lot more than I realized at the time. We have good memories of the project. When participants are put in an environment where they are not merely passive recipients of information but actors in the process of knowledge development and change then they are more likely to develop a stronger sense of collegiality and innovation. This should then lead to greater action outside the formal learning environment that affects the broader industry. A capacity development project should aim for this methodological approach so that experiential learning is regarded as an important step in a process and not seen as a one off if any attempts to implement change fail. Responsible Travel Alliance case study
The Last Resort explains, Just after MAST we tried to start an organisation with 7 companies from MAST but everyone wanted to do their own thing. It just didnt work so we had to stop meeting. But Govinda (another MAST participant) and I are going to teach the other companies from the Planet Finance training that SNV linked us with about responsible travel practice. We have given them guidelines for developing responsible travel practices and we will check their plans soon. We feel that we need some way of checking if we are being responsible enough. During MAST we got lots of ideas. So the purpose of the alliance is that we can monitor each other in terms of how responsible we are being. We have written documents to see if we can register the alliance as a formal organisation. Lets see how it works. I hope we can help each other with being more responsible. The alliance is all trekking and travel companies and all from the Planet Finance France trip. They [the other businesses] seemed to see the value of being responsible from the tourism fair we attended together. They just couldnt answer the tour operators questions about responsible travel as well as Govinda and I could.

6.4

Supply Chain Capacity Building and Management

An environment for responsible travel has also been stimulated in Nepal through supply chain management. A number of MAST companies realised that in order to honestly promote themselves as responsible, their supply chain should also be responsible. Tiger Mountain manager, Marcus Cotton explains that MAST helped us look at the supply chain. You cant purchase something that isnt there but you can try harder to find things. He says that, Supply chain management is a problem if you want to really be responsible. We go and tell our suppliers that we need to know how you make this to see if it is environmentally friendly but they are suspicious and think that you want to copy their product. He has persevered and discovered that paying suppliers within 3 days promotes trust and a better relationship with suppliers. In another example, Dhulikhel Mountain Resort delivered some of the MAST training to their supply chain and also to a tourism related association. The manager organized a workshop for his hoteliers and the Hotel Association of Nepal about what responsible travel means and how to keep premises nice and green and clean. The manager also joined the HAN environment committee in 2009 and explained that it was difficult to introduce environmental changes at first because tourism businesses were struggling to survive with the global financial crisis.

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However, he persevered and said that MAST gave him enough information and inspiration to join the HAN environment committee. The manager has also started an environmental NGO, NETIF. He explains, MAST encouraged us to go in full fledge and do more and plan for it. The fact that MAST companies have taken MAST teachings to heart and are now encouraging their supply chain to be responsible is clear evidence of improved capacity. Companies like Amazing Tours and Travels has encouraged over 50 businesses in their supply chain to commit to responsible travel. In some cases the owner of Amazing Tours and Travels has had to educate his supply chain on the benefits of environmental and cultural preservation. There are at least 3 hotels or guest houses plus additional restaurants and tea houses in every place they visit that have committed to responsible actions in order to ensure Amazing Tours and Travels send them business. The vehicle hire company Amazing Tours and Travels uses ensures they have economical unleaded petrol vehicles for his tour groups rather than providing the diesel guzzling vehicles he use to hire. The Indian company he partners with for border region tours now also try to source local guides when they arrive, rather than bringing guides with them from India. The guesthouse he uses in these remote areas now tries to conserve water in the running of the lodge even though at first the owner did not think water consumption was a problem for his generation. Being responsible is not just a saying, it is a way of operating, and clearly some MAST companies have captured the essence of responsible travel. Internationally Amazing Tours and Travels has shared their responsible travel policy with partners in Bhutan and in India and is currently discussing the policy with a Tibet partner. Given the Chinese governments control of guides and tourism to Tibet this particular company may only be able to make some small commitments to the policy but has been convinced by Amazing Tours and Travels that it is worth the effort. Taking MAST teachings internationally is a great outcome for a small budget development project and is clear evidence that MAST has had an impact on the broader tourism industry and stimulated an environment for responsible travel. 6.5 Action Plans

Another objective of the MAST project was to build capacity of tourism intermediaries in Nepal on sustainable tourism products. There is already evidence sighted above about participants influencing associations and other tourism related organisations and another way this objective was achieved is through the commitment to responsible actions. All companies had to commit to at least three responsible actions associated with the three MAST pillars: economic, social and environmental. These action plans involved different stakeholders from staff to local businesses and people. The reason MAST started with 30 companies and ended with 23 is because seven companies did not demonstrate commitment to their action plans and were asked to leave the project, illustrating the projects emphasis on implementing responsible actions and that accountability processes were in place during the project. The development and commitment to action plans was a new concept for a number of MAST participants. The focus on action plans and making responsible commitments taught many businesses the value of planning more systematically for responsible outcomes. Himalayan Encounters explains that What MAST compelled us to do was to make commitments. This was good because it acted as a catalyst. Some things we hadnt planned or had put off it made us focus on. It compelled us to develop action plans that we then felt compelled to do. Before MAST we didnt do a lot of planning. We just normally did things on the spot. Of the action plan commitments, training local people to be guides was the most popular with 10 companies making this commitment followed by 8 companies committing to energy efficiency and 8 to buy more local produce or use more local businesses and 7 committed to better waste management. There were many other commitments that involved tourism intermediaries such as promoting womens empowerment, developing cultural shows and products that educate tourists about the local people, reduce waste consumption and promote a more diverse, locally hired workforce. Nine MAST companies said the project gave them new ideas and inspired them to do more. The action plans are clearly successful. For many MAST

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companies being responsible in now a part of their main business model and they plan for responsible results. 16 out of 20 companies met 100% of their action plan commitments and all of these companies have continued to develop and implement responsible actions demonstrating the ongoing affect MAST is having on these businesses and the sector. At least one third of these companies were already undertaking responsible activities before MAST. For example Eco Treks was sponsoring a local school and a disadvantaged student and Social Tours was running an environmentally friendly office and a community based volunteer program. For these more advanced companies one of the main lessons cited from the MAST project was reassurance that they were on the right track. As Ultimate Descent explains, MAST made us sharpen our focus, our thoughts, and plans. We do things in a more systematized and organised way now. MAST was eye opening in that some of the small things we were doing we should do better or more of because they are important. MAST helped us stick more to the responsible tourism aspects of the business.

6.6

MAST Pillars

The action plans were developed in line with the three MAST pillars: 44 out of 74 action plan commitments concerned the environment. 17 out of 74 action plan commitments concerned the local economy. 17 action plans concerned the socio-cultural pillar and 7 of these focused on womens empowerment. In many instances it is difficult to separate actions into the three pillars because the benefits overlap as the following will illustrate. 6.6.1 Environmental Pillar

According to the MAST project document the Environmental pillar is about conserving and managing resources, especially those that are not renewable or are precious in terms of life support. This pillar requires action to minimize pollution of air, land, and water, and to conserve biological diversity and natural heritage. All respondents commented on the strength of MASTs environmental focus: Energy efficient light globes, promoting a paperless office, water safety and consumption reduction, and even kitchen garbage and waste management was covered. Regardless of the level of prior exposure to environmental issues all companies gained some new knowledge and were inspired to do more to help the environment. Ghalegaun Village Resort has educated 15 honey hunters on bee ecology and sustainable harvesting practices so that his honey collecting tours will continue. The manager from Dhulikhel Mountain Resort advocates that we must look after the environment because it is our product. Amazing Tours and Travels were surprised to learn that, Going sustainable doesnt mean you drain your resources just that you make use of your resources in smarter ways and this increases your profit margin. Explore Nepal explains that you have to be responsible for inviting visitors to this country so they do not damage the eco system or hurt the culture of this country. He goes on to explain that tourism is generally an industry that is bad for the environment and sights the first stage of tourism involving air travel as his reference point. He says this does not mean the tourism industry should not help to protect the environment. For example, he plants trees for every visitor who buys a complete package tour. By doing this he reduces each tourists CO2 emissions. He also gives funding to the local community for improved cooking stoves which save up to 1.4 tones of CO2. He concludes, To sustain Nepal tourism industry all business should be sustainable and not over use resources or nature.

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Even companies like Tiger Mountain who are advanced in terms of their environmental conservation approach admit that you can always find more to do in terms of environmental preservation. For example, during MAST they replaced the battery torches that guests use with wind up torches. Marcus explained that in two years we covered the cost of the torches with the savings from buying batteries and it helps the environment and sends a good message to the guests about being more aware of the environment while they are in Nepal. 6.6.2 Economic Pillar

According to the MAST project document the economic pillar is about generating prosperity at different levels of society and addressing the cost effectiveness of all economic activity. Crucially, this pillar is about the viability of enterprises and activities and their ability to be maintained in the long-term. It is possible to spread tourism benefits widely throughout Nepal when local people, their products and businesses are included in company supply chains. Amazing Tours and Travels explains that Before MAST we didnt care that we used international brands of beer on our tours. We never suggested the local Everest Beer because we thought tourists wouldnt like it. But to be more culturally appropriate we suggest tourists try the local beer and other local products and the tourists feel happy to do this. This maybe a small contribution but when it goes to totality it does have direct impact on local peoples lives and the local economy. Manang Tours and Travels is using more home stay accommodation in his local area and this gives the home owners USD15 per night and NPR100 (USD1.3) per meal. Before this only larger hotels would get any benefit from tour groups. The community around Balthali Village Resort has benefited in multiple ways from the resorts development. Not only has the resort built the first road to the community which has opened up trade but the owner always gives 1-2 rupees more for vegetables than the market price. We want to keep our villages happy. It doesnt make much difference to us. My community is now proud of the resort because it has made the village well known. The community seems happy to return the favour as they take more pride in cleaning the rubbish from around the village and protect the environment which ultimately helps the resort attract more tourists. Also a number of locals now have solar energy like the resort. Amazing Tours and Travels explains the multiple benefits from integrating the economic and socio-cultural pillars of MAST, The local people are happy to welcome us and so are our associates. We used to go to a Tharu village and we were hesitant to go to this or that house because people were not that welcoming. We felt we were intruding with their privacy or daily life. But now we share with them and visit their museum and pay the entry fee and this benefits them and they have new social skills in their community and now they welcome us to their stores. We thought we were forcing commercialization on them but now we dont feel that because we promote local to tourists and this money helps the locals. Action plan commitments have clearly had an affect on tourism intermediaries who now promote tourism in their community and assist in developing more sustainable and responsible tourism products. 6.6.3 Socio-Cultural Pillar

According to the MAST project document the socio-cultural pillar is about supporting social progress, respecting human rights and equal opportunities for all in society. This pillar requires an equitable distribution of benefits, with a focus on alleviating poverty. There is an emphasis on local communities, maintaining and strengthening their life support systems, recognizing and respecting different cultures and avoiding any form of exploitation. The socio-cultural pillar of MAST encouraged companies to think about social and cultural promotion and preservation. For example, Manang Tours and Travels developed some cultural tours that preserves the local culture which is dying out and lying in ruin. We encourage the locals to not break down the old houses but preserve them. People do not value our traditional architecture.

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Social Tours feel they are doing better on the cultural side of tourism since MAST. They show volunteers cultural knowledge and have made tourism about cultural emersion through activities such as home stays. Raj, the owner, explains that it is important to make tourism a positive tool for change. Companies like Tiger Mountain have plans to take the social pillar to a new level whereby the local community participates in business management processes: Tiger Mountain - Case Study

Tiger Mountain has a long history of being a responsible resort. One new initiative worthy of mention that Tiger Mountain started after MAST is a Sustainable Action Group (SAG). SAG is a forum of Tiger Mountain employees who want to be involved in developing and examining the companys responsible tourism policies. One of their ideas was to pack guest picnic lunches in recyclable containers and another was to involve the community in litter collection. Most of Tiger Mountains staff are from the local area so they have great influence over the local community. SAG gives them the opportunity to involve more of their family and villages in environmental management and the businesses environmental project. The next SAG meeting will discuss moving the waste project to the local school parent management body so it will be fully integrated into the community. Tiger Mountains manager explains that a future plan is to involve community members in the SAG so that the resort and community are harmoniously sharing ideas and moving towards the same environmental and social conservation goals.

Dhulikhel Mountain Resort also discovered that integrating the local community into their business ultimately helps their business. One of their action plans was to involve local disadvantaged youth in a cultural dance show that would be performed at the resort when there were enough guests. The manager explains that, We can entertain our guests now and we have a good relationship with the locals now. Business is picking up. You cannot run a business in Nepal without showing you are different and must include locals or you wont survive. You will be closed down. The Last Resort added a community service aspect to their team building package that is sold to schools. The package now offers wealthy international school students the opportunity to interact with the local community. The manager explains that We teach the rich kids how to learn from poor not just that it is one way where they bring in technology and teach the poor how to use it. In fact we make the rich kids keep their phones and gadgets at home when they visit the community. They stay in a poor kids house and look at how they do their farming and other activities. The local community also gets financing from this aspect of the package. The Last Resort is delighted by how successful the package has become. Last year we only had 5 groups and already we have had 12 groups in the first half of this year. Another few schools have made bookings and specifically asked for the community project but we havent been promoting it. So they must have heard about it elsewhere. I know the Dubai school had recommended it to another school in the UK who are coming next year because of the community emersion aspect. All the schools seem to love the community aspect of the project and the local people enjoy the experience too. Social Tours explains how the emphasis on society and culture improved their workforce. Next time we started hiring people we talked about how we should employ women. We now have 3 women and 4 men in our office, 1 woman guide and we are training 2 others at the moment. Our gender ratio used to be 1-17. We talked about this issue before MAST but when staff heard about it from other people [i.e. during the MAST training] then they started to take action. Ethnicity was also an issue but now we have 5 ethnicities in the office. Five different companies made commitments to womens empowerment during MAST. The action plan commitments have led to the development of more responsible tourism products that promote diversity, involve more tourism intermediaries, and spread the benefits from increased tourist numbers more widely throughout Nepal.

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6.7

Attitude to Business

Aside from achieving project objectives MAST has convinced a number of participants to improve their business practices. Eight participants commented that MAST helped to change their attitude to business. Naulo Travels explains how his perception of business changed after MAST. He never used to think about plastics or reducing his electricity bill or paper consumption nor did he think about his business image, I was narrower focused before and didnt think about sustainability and marketing. MAST taught me that I can enhance my business by doing little things. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking commented that MAST increased their holistic view of business, We didnt think about the business as a whole before MAST. It was eye opening for us that it would be very good to have women everywhere: in the guest house, working behind the desk and not just as guides. MAST widened our focus away from just one side of the business. The owner of Balthali Village Resort learnt some foundational business skills from the MAST project. He explains, I was a good guide but not a good businessman until MAST. I learnt how to improve my website and use newspapers to advertise and how to keep clients happy. Like many MAST participants he began his career as a tourism guide and eventually started his own tourism business but never had any formal business training. MAST helped him to develop confidence as a businessman. He now reinvests his money in his business. Being a guide is easy money in terms of tips. You can be social and you just chat with people and thats how you earn more money. You dont need to invest any money or anything to earn money but as a business you do. Rhino Resorts now develops products and marketing material after researching a specific market to target. For example the owner explained that if he wants to do business with a German Tour Company then he has to have a product that suits German tourists. He focuses on what tourists want and need and then develops products to reflect that. His attitude to business was less client focused before MAST. The above examples illustrate better business acumen which will lead to better business outcomes and a stronger tourism sector with happier tourists. If the best tourism businesses in the sector operate as responsible then an environment for responsible travel will continue to infiltrate the sector. 6.8 Marketing

The final objective of MAST was to improve the marketing of sustainable tourism products by tourism companies in Nepal. This was to be achieved by improving the way businesses promote themselves and by showing businesses that there is a market for sustainable and responsible behaviour. Marketing incentives were used to promote responsible behaviour change. Businesses have clearly learnt that marketing is something they can do themselves (not just a reward) to generate business opportunities. 6.8.1 Code of Conduct and Responsible Policy

The action plans were instrumental in helping companies appreciate the value of putting responsible commitments on paper and the methodological approach of MAST encouraged them to take ongoing action. But what companies realised after MAST is that to market yourself as responsible requires proof. Everest Resort explains some additional benefits they received from developing responsible action plans, We have more documents that we follow and record things on and have principles written down. So it is easy to give information to European markets. 15-20% of their European tour operators ask about their

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responsible practices and they now have documents ready to share with them which helps with their legitimacy. Out of 21 MAST companies 14 now have a code of conduct or responsible travel policy to govern them and their suppliers actions. Below is a copy of Amazing Tours and Travels policy that can be found on their website. You can clearly see MAST principles and practices reflected in the policy illustrating the ongoing impact and influence of the MAST training.
The following are the policy guidelines in respect of responsible tourism that Amazing Tours and Travels have set for ourselves. We cannot claim that we have achieved every point to our complete satisfaction, but continue to pursue to reach the goal. As far as possible we will use local equipment. We will hire the equipment from qualified hiring agencies so that the money gets more evenly spread in the economy. In most destinations we will aim to where possible to purchase our food from locally produced source. We encourage clients through our leaders, the literature and slide shows to act in a responsible way and with an insight and understanding of the host destination. We will work together with our stakeholders in this business (hotels, hiring agencies, guides, other companies etc.) to implement the highest of standards and work out an agenda on how these standards can be met. We will develop long term partnerships with our stakeholders, hence establishing long lasting economically stable relationships. We will take into consideration environmental, cultural and economic issues when looking at tours that we develop. We will ensure that our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. So we ensure that our type and scale of tourism is appropriate to local conditions and operate within the limits set by local appropriate infrastructure and carrying capacity. We aim to take responsibility for maintaining and improving the environment. We look for appropriate systems for minimizing water and atmospheric pollution from tourism developments. We aim to achieve zero litter policies. We aim to integrate environmental considerations into all economic considerations. We will provide regular and ongoing training, in the principles and practices of responsible tourism, both to our staff in the office and those employed out of the office. We will provide financial support for local economic, developmental and environmental projects giving back to the community which is supporting our business. We aim to reduce the levels of energy use in our offices and by our staff by recycling where possible and reduce paper use by increased training and use of computer technology.

Tiger Mountain explains that MAST helped confirm the need for marketing. It confirmed in my mind the need to quantify what we are doing. You cant just say you are green you have to prove it but it is very hard to quantify all these things. This is why Tiger Mountain is undertaking annual responsible travel audits similar to Social Tours. This assists them to market themselves as responsible as it provides proof to potential clients. 6.8.2 How to Deal with International Tour Operators

MAST participants realised that a new level of professionalism is required when dealing with international tour operators and that securing business from international tour operators is essential for business survival. Nepal Mountain Bike Tours explains that, Interconnection with travel agencies is important for business. International tour operators need me to be very professional and neat and clean when I deal with their clients. We need to talk to them in a certain way and get their feedback.

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The Last Resort explains that, International companies really try and test you. They ask you all sorts of questions about being responsible so that you cant fake it. If you understand their language then you can give proper answers to their questions and they will give you business. 6.8.3 How to Develop Marketing Material

A number of MAST companies had never been taught about how to develop marketing material. Thirteen participants sighted marketing material development as one of the main lessons and benefits they received from the MAST project. The brochures and advertising material of some companies appeared amateur and unprofessional before the MAST project. Rhino Resorts developed new brochures after MAST, MAST taught how to make an attractive brochure, how to mention what your business practices and have nice pictures. I spent more money developing my brochures than what I would have before MAST because MAST taught me the value of advertising. Ghalegaun Village Resort uses more photos and less words in his brochures now and Naulo Travels improved his visiting card by making it more simple with less content. Balthali Village Resort improved his website, visiting cards and brochure and even has a letter pad and envelope printed with his company logo and contact details. 6.8.4 How to Position Yourself in the Market

Many companies were unaware of their added value or how to sell their strengths. They were not aware of how they were different to their competitors and that there was value in promoting difference. The idea of niche markets and responsible travel was new. Thirteen participants sighted positioning in the market as a main lesson/benefit from MAST. Rhino Resorts learnt about fair trade and how to compete with other resorts. We need to make a basic standard and make a specialization or a niche area to sell more in the market. Whoever I talk to in Europe they are very interested to hear about MAST and want to know what I learnt. They are interested to see the products I developed under MAST especially agro-based tourism companies and are interested to know about my responsible work. Everest Resort changed their name from Syangboche Panaroma Resort because they realised that no one outside of Nepal knew that Syangboche was in the Everest region. Himalayan Encounters explains that MAST taught us the value of promoting ourselves as responsible. Unless we talk about the good things we do people wont know about it or why they should choose us. So now we package the good things we are doing and have it heard. Even companies such as Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking, who were already doing what can be categorized as responsible travel, learnt the benefit of marketing themselves differently, We were doing these things but had no idea it was a value we had that we could promote. The tourist eye sees differently to us and we didnt think that way before Nowadays we get womens group from many European countries. Last year we had 30 women from a German company. We never really tapped into womens only groups before MAST taught us the benefit of niche markets. 6.8.5 How to Sell Responsible Travel

Selling a responsible product is easier than selling a product without additional value. As explained by The Last Resort, The first thing is the whole sales staff and company has started being plain honest with clients. We even tell clients about some of our initiatives that havent worked. To be responsible and to sell it you really have to do it because customers will ask you questions and you will be found out if you lie. Our sales staff say selling our product is much easier when we add the responsibility dimension. It helps them when they can just say things as they are rather than feeling stressed in case they get caught out for saying something not entirely true.

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The Last Resort have also begun marketing in new ways such as advertising on responsible travel websites like RT.com - people tell us they heard about us from that site but I dont know how to quantify how much business it has brought us.

7. Attribution and Impact Figures


While the above provides ample evidence that the MAST project exceeded its objectives and assisted businesses to develop acumen and generate more business, impact figures are missing. Development projects that involve marketing and private sector related development often struggle to demonstrate business impact within project timeframes. It can take at least two years to begin to see profit increases from business development and with marketing changes it can take even longer. As Govinda Bhatta from Amazing Tours and Travels explains about international travel companies, operators do not change right away. You have to stay close and maintain the relationship so if their current supplier makes a mistake you are there to help them out. Amazing Tours and Travels has had continual contact with 4 international tour operators he was networked with during MAST. He anticipates they will send him business soon but it is a long-term affair to secure new business from international tour companies. He is working on a presentation for one operator who will participate in a travel fair. The operator asked him to develop a CD where he mentions the MAST Nepal training and what he learnt and implemented so he can show it at the trade fair. Any business interests that are generated from this will be passed onto Amazing Tours and Travels. Another tour company from Amsterdam contacted Amazing Tours and Travels because they wanted to know more about the MAST certificate that appeared on his web site. Govinda explains, They asked us lots of questions about responsible travel like what different things we did with MAST and what the training involved and what we have implemented since MAST ended. I could tell they were trying to test my knowledge on being responsible and they were obviously satisfied with my answers because in October they will send us 4 people. This is a test and if it goes well which we know it will - then they will send us one group every week in October, November and February with about 16 people in a group. In January and December they have promised to send 2 groups per month. Proving impact is difficult and calculating impact figures from marketing projects is even harder. For example how does one calculate the additional business an improved website generates especially if business records are poor making before and after comparisons difficult to verify? For example, Last Resort honestly explained that it was difficult to isolate MASTs contribution to the overall business: Our sales staff say it has helped them to sell more and upgrading the website has helped. Two years ago [the end of the MAST project] customers would come and stay for 1 or 2 nights at the most but now all our email booking stay for 4 plus nights and they say it is because they would like to see how we are helping local communities. The Last Resort updated their website during MAST to explain how a certain amount of each product goes towards helping the local community. The sales manager explains that there is a link to MAST but it is difficult to quantify. This impact assessment has been able to generate some impact figures that are directly attributable to MAST but most evidence relies on the opinions of businesses and not hard data. If there is a MAST phase II then a baseline of company business records should be collected along with other data and marketing material that will allow for benchmarking and comparisons over time.

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7.1 Overheads Six MAST companies who were new to the idea of responsible travel did not realise that they could reduce their overhead costs just by becoming environmentally friendly. Manang Tours and Travels saves about 40% on overhead costs now that he is more energyefficient and uses e-ticketing which saves paper. He now does electronic filing and taught his staff to minimize printing to be more ecologically friendly and turn off the lights when they leave a room. He also saves money by purchasing locally. He explains that buying the produce he needs for his tours in Kathmandu and transporting them to the site of the tour costs an additional 20%. He explains that MAST promoted minimizing the environmental impact of my business. Everest Resort discusses how a reduction in their overhead costs has improved their bottom line, We use to pay 6-7 rupees for 1 litre of water but now we have our own water tank we save this money. Sometimes we do not collect enough water and have to buy some but overall we save more than 60-70% on our monthly water bill. However, this does not account for the set up cost of the tank which was NPR1, 300, 000 (USD17, 800). 7.2 Profits & New Business Ten companies were clearly able to make a link between profit increases and the MAST project. However, many could not validate the information due to a lack of record keeping. A few companies could give some evidence of profit increases and they appear below. There are also five businesses involved in MAST that have stagnated or reduced their profit and their explanation is the global financial crisis and Nepals unstable political situation which has a direct bearing on tourist numbers. For example, three businesses were interviewed the day after a week long protest strike (known as a bundh) finished in Kathmandu. All three businesses had tour groups cancel their trips at the last minute and openly discussed the price of extortion payments to keep their business running during the bundh. These factors have a direct bearing on overheads, profit loss and the overall tourism pie. This obviously impacts on the benefits the MAST project could have generated but is beyond the control of MAST. Roughly fifty per cent of the companies involved in MAST were surprised to discover that being responsible is good for business. As one MAST participant explained, We never could have imagined such benefits from becoming sustainable. Most of these businesses were sceptical about becoming responsible at first because they thought it would cost them money. Naulo Travels explains the business potential for adopting responsible travel practices is that locals help make tourism sustainable by managing the local area. This will sustain business and profit in the long run. Rhino Resorts believes that he receives about 25% of his new business from other MAST participants and since the MAST project ended he has an extra 20% of European clients per year. He attributes this to MAST because he now targets that market. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking believes MAST has generated at least 10% increase overall in their business and again cite the increase in European clients as a result of improved targeted marketing. Before MAST Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking Companys clientele involved majority American tourists (45%) and only 20% European trekkers. Since MAST they still have the same amount of American trekkers but now they only make up 25% of their total business. The number of Europeans has taken over and now makes up 45% of their clientele. Lucky Chhetri, one of the owners, attributes this to MAST. As a result of the MAST certificate appearing on a Nepali companies website (the company wishes to remain nameless due to confidential profit figures provided) the company has generated USD168, 000 worth of new business, most of which is spent on local hotels, food, entrance fees etc and a little bit on ticketing. This is a conservative estimate and does not look at the companies over all profit increase since the MAST project ended only that directly generated from a relationship with one international tour company that resulted from MAST related contacts. The proportion of profit the Nepali travel company receives from this new business contact is USD20, 000. Mowgli's Eco Adventure Tours attributes 50% of new business to MAST also via the certificate on his website and understanding how to position himself in the market better.

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Normally we have few clients through friends but through MAST we have linkages with China and Germany, Spain etc. Ive made linkages internationally with tour operators and bird clubs. One travel agent from Spain sent 3 people in December 2009 and is sending 2 more in February. A China company interested in bird watching booked 13 people but cancelled with the strike this year but may come next year. 2 Germans came for 21 days bird watching. I met all these contacts through MAST. Ghalegaun Village Resort used to get about 50 international tourists per year before the MAST project but now that he has upgraded his marketing materials and begun promoting himself as a responsible company he attracts at least 90 international guests per year. International companies ask me about sustainable tourism and then include my resort in the package they sell. European tourists want sustainable products. Additionally, before the MAST training we had 200 domestic tourists per year. Now we get 500 - 600 Nepali tourists per year Because I know more I can talk more to schools and colleges about how important it is to be sustainable. These talks help me to get business. Himalayan Encounters explains that MAST gave us a link to a couple of big companies overseas and we spent the last 2 years working with them. They send us about 70 people per year. We have another two possible international companies but we are still in the talking phase but hope to get some more people through them. Everest Resort also estimates that they receive an extra 15% business per annum since they began promoting themselves as a responsible resort. Not only do they have more guests but their guests also stay for longer. The profit increase (after staff salaries and operating costs) from the additional guests is close to USD3, 000. It is clear that many participants can cite an increase in business as a result of MAST but quantifying and isolating figures is challenging. This is compounded by the fact that businesses are reluctant to disclose profit margins and actual figures. The best option was to ask businesses to estimate percentages of change that they had observed. 7.3 Indirect Beneficiaries Given the pillars of MAST and the action plan commitments made, MAST benefits do not end with the business. They trickle down to the local economy. For example, Dream Nepal Travel and Tours discusses the benefits to local people from a new product he developed during MAST to promote a new cultural tourism area. He takes around 200 - 300 Nepali students and 40 international tourists hiking each year in the Chewunda Yeti area and uses a local lodge for accommodation. Aside from accommodation he spends NPR120, 000 (USD1, 640) locally on food per year. Everest Resort committed to upgrade their hotel furnishings during MAST with fair trade and other locally made products. In total they spent about NPR500, 000 (USD6, 850) on refurbishing the hotel. As they also changed their buying patterns to source more fresh local produce. They attribute the NPR5-6, 000 (USD70) of local fruit and vegetable per week (including cost of porter to carry) as a benefit the local people get from MAST. This is a considerable economic boost to an isolated local mountainous area. MAST has had a developmental impact that is wider than just increasing the amount of vegetables and other products purchased locally. However, other types of impacts are very hard to quantify but have inherent value as the stories below illustrate. Balthali Village Resort - case study

Balthali Village Resort has trained 5 local guides as part of his commitment during MAST. He offers a local guided walk with every room booked. Local guides earn NPR5-10, 000 (USD70-140) in a month depending on how busy it is (NPR500 -1, 000 (USD7-14) per day depending on their English skills) plus tips. He also built a road to the village. This helps locals to take their surplus products to Kathmandu. They were growing vegetables before MAST but not as much because they had no alternative market. Now they grow vegetables as an income source not just for consumption.

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During MAST Balthali Village Resort committed to buying local products whereas he use to buy in Kathmandu. He laughed when he explained that last winter he bought all the green vegetables in the village, Before the hotel started you couldnt buy much in my village because we didnt have many tourists. But since the road and MAST the hotel is doing better and so is the village. Before MAST training there were very few clients in my hotel. I was everything waiter, host, handyman, I was everywhere. He explains how his business has grown, Four years ago I had 100 foreigner guests per year. Two years later I had about 250 per year. This year I have booking for about 400 - 500 European tourists and 250300 Nepalis per year. From October we have good bookings 61 Germans for 18 days. This gives lots of local jobs and I will need to hire more local guides. Local people now understand tourism and how it can help. I offer a cultural project in the hotel where local people come to talk with guests and dance in the hotel. I dont pay them for the dance but they get about NPR2, 000 4, 000 (USD27 54) in tips. After the dance the guests interact with the children so they can practice their English. The kids were shy at first but are now more open with tourists. Tourists have also helped the local school by donating computers and funding tuition for poorer children. Even the poor get help from MAST because more tourists come and offer things to my community.

Dhulikhel Mountain Resort has trained local disadvantaged youths to perform a cultural dance at the hotel. The hotel paid for costumes and a chorographer to teach them traditional dances. They earn about NPR5, 000 (USD68) per dance plus food. They have earned half a million rupees (USD6, 850) since they commenced the dances and do 20 projects per month for the Dhulikhel Mountain Resort. The manager said the tourists are happy and so is the local community. The dance troop is allowed to borrow the hotels costumes and routines and perform at other resorts as well. For the youth involved it is their only means of earning an income around school hours and many of them are using their savings for college and higher education. According to the owner of Dhulikhel Mountain Resort this impact is 100% attributable to MAST because that is where they got the cultural dance idea. Rhino Resorts also organised a cultural dance show focusing on the local Tharu ethnic people. The local youth were unaware of their traditional dances so the resort found a teacher to help them choreograph a show for the resort. They also made traditional costumes. The group dance every night there is a guest and do about 4 different dances. They earn NPR3, 000 (USD41) in total per dance plus tips which range from NPR5-15, 000 (USD68 - 205). When on a tour, the owner of Ghalegaun Village Resort talks to schools along the trek about the save the Himalaya environmental protection project. In 1 year he estimates that he speaks to about 4000 -5000 students which includes the talks he gives for free to Kathmandu schools. While he admits that he was doing talks before MAST he now talks more about eco tourism and protecting the environment for tourism and the benefit of tourism to the economy. Last Resort - case study

Last Resort started a local tender policy during MAST which is still running. This is where we tender in the local population for goods and services and suppliers of food and beverages. We use to just source from Kathmandu. Were not saving any money from doing this because we could get things a little cheaper in Kathmandu but the local community now has their own money to build their own schools and develop themselves. We ask the community to put any profit they make into community development but it is hard to police this. Last year we spent NPR1200, 000 (USD16,400) on local tender and so far this year it has been about NPR400, 000 (USD5, 500). Even if we dont save costs we do save the environment in terms of a reduction in transportation and petrol to get the goods from Kathmandu. Our main motivation to keep buying locally is that we have better relations with local people and have established goodwill. Weve never been stopped because of a bundh because locals are on our side. Other companies who operate in the area have demands placed on them such as pay NPR15, 000 (USD205) to the VDC so you can operate during the bundh but we dont. We were doing some things right prior to MAST but now we do it differently. Before we gave to local schools or the community and didnt care how it was spent. Now we are more involved with the community and help them aside from just handouts. We have a responsible travel policy that focuses on health, education and women. We are also committed to improve our waste management and to use energy efficient light bulbs during MAST. We are still doing this and saving 40% on our electricity bill per month.

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Tourism can have immense benefits for the local population. When a project like MAST emphasises the local and gets companies to make commitments then there is a multi dimensional, more widely spread benefit from increased tourism. MAST participants have clearly seen the value in involving more local people in their business.

8. Summary of Impact Figures


To summarise some of the impact figures: Six MAST companies reduced overhead costs; ten companies were clearly able to make a link between increased client numbers, new business and the MAST project: Balthali Village Resort has an additional 400 guests per year. Ghalegaun Village Resort has 40 more international tourists and 250 additional Nepali tourists per year. Himalayan Encounters attracts an extra 70 tourists per year. Rhino Resorts receive 25% of new business from other MAST participants and since the MAST project ended has an extra 20% of European clients per year. Three Sisters Adventure & Trekking attributes a 10% increase in business to MAST. Mowgli's Eco Adventure Tours attributes 50% of new business to MAST. USD20,000 increase in profit for one business from MAST contacts and USD168, 000 increased spend on local services and products. Everest Resort receives an additional USD3, 000 profit per annum.

And, all participants cited multiple indirect benefits including: Dream Nepal Travel and Tours spent an additional USD1, 640 on the local economy. The Last Resort spent USD16, 400 on local produce in 2009 that used to be purchased in Kathmandu. Everest Resort spent USD6, 850 on local products for hotel refurbishing and spend approximately USD70 per week on local produce that used to be purchased in Kathmandu. Balthali Village Resort built the first road to Balthali and pays local guides USD70 - 140 per month and local dancers USD27 54 per performance. Dhulikhel Mountain Resort has generated USD6, 850 income for the local dance troop which has secured higher education opportunities for the dancers. Rhino Resorts also through a local dance show generates between USD41 205 in income for local people. Ghalegaun Village Resort has educated approximately 5000 Nepali students on environmental conservation and tourism benefits and 15 honey hunters on bee ecology and sustainable harvesting. The Last Resort has educated approximately 500 internationally wealthy students on Nepali culture and lifestyle. Manang Tours and Travels employed 3 new staff to manage the new responsible product he developed after MAST. Collectively MAST companies have deliberately introduced 15 women into the male dominated tourism industry through employment.

9. Recommended Improvements
During the impact assessment participants were asked about recommendations to improve the MAST project along with suggestions for a new MAST project. Most participants were candid and while all appreciated the MAST project and valued the opportunity to participate they also had some suggestions for how to improve the project. As one business explained, you can always improve with hindsight but 95% was good. 9.1 Course Content The majority of participants commented that the course was too theoretical and should have had more practical application and be tailored to the Nepalese context. There were also comments about inconsistency: some sessions were apparently too theoretical and others too basic. While some participants enjoyed having access to international experts others felt this should have been better balanced with local experts. A majority of businesses wanted the

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project to be more practical with real examples from local companies, Internationals dont understand Nepal. MAST should draw on more local knowledge not fly in experts from universities. We need practical training. The information was not tailored to the Nepali or even Asian context and this could have been strengthened by involving more Nepalis in the planning and content delivery. Participants felt the project could have achieved more if time was spent establishing joint directions and learning foundations. Four participants commented that the MAST project should have had a steering committee comprising of more experienced Nepali businesses or involved more participants in the planning. For example, There was not enough mutuality of respect for what everyone brought to the table. Lip service was paid only. Also I never knew where the project was going until it got there. The project needed a steering committee of a few of the key players. 9.2 Business Management Six participants would have liked MAST to focus more on the business management side of tourism. For example one business said, Computer and IT skills should have been covered as well as more on using the media to promote business and latest ways to market electronically and what software to use to develop your own marketing material. 9.3 Selection Processes Four participants had comments on who was selected for the training and how businesses were grouped. For example, Trainings had a value. But people should have been clustered differently according to their level of knowledge and current practice. There were people who were advanced in responsible travel and people who were new to responsible travel all in one session and all trying to learn at the same pace. Taking smaller classes or working with a coach would have been better. Another participant commented that only those with influence such as managers should have participated and not just any staff member, MAST should have required the executive of the company to attend and they could bring juniors along if they wanted. 9.4 Marketing Incentives There were also a number of criticisms about the fan trip. The majority of participants thought the selection of only 3 companies was done poorly and all companies should have had the opportunity to present themselves internationally for equity reasons. One company explained that they Didnt like how MAST only chose 3 people to travel and promote Nepal overseas. They were not the best choice. Participants voted and the three companies with the most votes went overseas to represent all MAST businesses. As one business said, The award thing was a mess. How to pick who travelled abroad was not well done. There were also concerns about how MAST companies were represented overseas even by one of the companies who went on the fan trip, We went to different countries and had flyers to give out but not enough money for flyers and so we ran out. MAST should have had less cocktail functions and more money for advertising. Participants also felt that there should have been more time to prepare for these fan trips and more information given on how to manage and present yourself at a tourism fair. Additionally, The fan trip should have given the participants knowledge about the country and local culture but it was too rushed and should have had more tour operators involved. 9.5 Issues in Course Three businesses commented on the need to do more for the gender aspect of the social pillar and two others thought that gender was irrelevant. Some businesses committed to recruiting female staff but could not retain them, or they hired more female guides but then didnt know how to manage the discrimination they faced. One business suggested SNV and other donors should lobby the government to reduce the load allowed to be carried by male porters so that more female porters could be hired. Women are physically unable to carry the heavy loads that males can which makes them less cost effective than hiring males. Five other companies felt that MAST should have been area based or emphasised local community development. As one explained, The project should focus more on the rural side

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and on smaller or newer tourist destinations. There should have been less focus on existing areas and the city because the big agencies do not need assistance or market promotion. Some of these companies had tried to implement home stay programs unsuccessfully. This involved homeowners investing money in setting up their houses for international visitors by installing a sit down toilet and purchasing beds. Unfortunately the businesses were not able to sell many home stay packages and the homeowners have not recuperated their initial investment. This has been a cause of some tension between the businesses and locals. MAST participants not only felt that the project should have prepared them better for such a scenario but that there should have been some project funds dedicated to support new tourist destinations and responsible products. 9.6 Location of Training Program Five smaller companies commented that the training was ill placed at a 5 star resort. As one explained, The next training should be at a local rural eco hotel. These participants felt that MAST should have practiced what it preached by using locally owned hotels that operated outside the main tourist zone for the training site. 9.7 Follow Up Assistance Half the participants commented that they wanted more follow up from MAST. In order to cement the learning from MAST and keep the momentum alive, participants would have benefited from 6 -12 month follow up processes. Participants felt that they had more questions and ideas to discuss once they reflected on the initial learning. Participants requested that any phase II of MAST has more follow up and ongoing collaborative learning factored into it. Participants commented that follow up action from SNV by way of emails or meetings would have reminded them of their commitments and prompted further action and also because good capacity development requires reflective space to learn. It allows people time to experiment with what they have learnt, apply the knowledge and then reflect on what has worked and seek new knowledge and information for trouble shooting and understanding in a collaborative space. This final dimension of a capacity building methodology was missing from the MAST project.

10.

Recommendations for MAST Phase II

Most businesses had a wish list for a second MAST project illustrating the value and potential they saw from the first MAST and the need for sectoral tourism projects in Nepal. MAST phase II cannot do everything so a strategic approach that manages stakeholder expectations will be required. Generally businesses wanted a longer holistic project that covered systemic issues in the tourism industry: MAST and donors are not touching the larger issues. It is not about companies but destinations and government policy that is important. 10.1 Longer and More Sustainable Project One company said they had no recommendations except to continue the project, In Nepal many projects are short and this approach is unsustainable. So the next MAST project should be longer and more sustainable. Another company explained, If you went to the tourism board or a hotel association and asked what they thought of MAST they wouldnt know what it was. MAST should have been a launching of a process not a one-off. MAST should be integrated into a sustainable tourism initiative so it is owned by the tourism industry and focuses on more holistic problems within the industry. 10.2 Policy Change & Government of Nepal (GoN) More than half the participants felt that a MAST phase II could really add value by bringing the government and private sector together and by supporting multi-actor change processes. They also felt that donors and SNV should be building the capacity of the government to develop better, more sustainable tourism plans and policies.

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As one business explained, MAST should operate in the space where his business cannot, I cant walk up to the Nepal tourism board and tell them what to do but a donor could. They could make the whole tourism industry better. Another said, The concept [of MAST] should be mainstreamed throughout the whole industry, including the policy of the government. So maybe together we could influence the government to develop a sustainable tourism policy. Four businesses felt that GoN is actively pursuing policies that are harmful to the sustainability of Nepals tourism industry: The last policy campaign for tourism was tourism for all but this is only possible if the tourism is sustainable but the government does not focus on this. Tourism is a very competitive industry and the way it currently operates in Nepal is unsustainable. There should be barriers to entering the tourism industry and MAST could help with this. One criterion should have a responsible travel principle. Businesses appeared quite frustrated with the GoN, the government makes its own rules without talking to Private Sector. Also the government is not looking after tourists, for example there are no public toilets in tourist areas. The government should be investing in long term investment in Nepal and not spend so much on marketing. Leave marketing to the businesses. Businesses felt concerned that Nepal is not matching the expectations of tourists because there is too much false advertising associated with Nepal tourism and this leads to disappointed tourists. Another company explained that long term investments are better for the future of tourism. For example in Humla you cant get a permit in time because of corruption. These are some of the issues a tourism project should fix. Businesses also thought MAST could help with regulating the tourism industry, we need a code of conduct for ensuring good labour conditions of porters. TAAN has to be very aware themselves and monitor their agencies to improve porter conditions but this in not happening. TAAN cant make policies but should implement what is there and can coordinate with labour union etc. but they are not doing this. They dont even collect feedback from the grassroots organisations and porters to lobby for better policies. Everyones talking about porter rights but no one is doing anything. MAST could really help. Lets get into the details of how you build a responsible tourism industry in Nepal. So focus more on the surrounding and supporting environment needed for responsible travel. I mean we should even develop curriculum on responsible tourism for local high schools and combine industry with tourism such as tea tourism where tourists come and look at how Nepal manages different industries. People would love to stay in the heart of a tea plantation. There is obviously scope for improvements in Nepals tourism industry and a need for broader sectoral change. A lot of these comments point to the need to build capacity for governance in tourism. 10.3 Technical Aspects of Environmental Management Six businesses felt that a future MAST project should focus more on how to recycle and manage and promote an environmentally friendly supply chain. One business said that MAST should hire some technical assistance to really discuss how to make an office utilize energy better in terms of new technology. This particular company felt there was more they could do to save energy and operate efficiently but didnt know where to get the information. Businesses also wanted to know what technology exists in terms of composting kitchen and human waste; what to do with batteries and plastic bags and bottles, etc. Some companies didnt just want to know what to do with waste to get rid of it but wanted ideas on how they could recycle these products and use them elsewhere in their business.

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10.4 Business Processes One company eloquently explained that he wanted to know How do you play with business processes to really become sustainable and responsible? Phase one of MAST promoted responsibility and proved that it is important so now we need to know the nuts and bolts of being responsible. For example, how do you pay porters more? What mechanism do you use so we dont change the balance but help realistically? How do you move in that direction? 10.5 Certification Fifty percent of businesses have realised the need to prove that they are responsible to the international market. Their word is not enough. Two MAST companies have taken the initiative to undertake independent audits to prove they are responsible but others thought a MAST phase II could look into responsible travel certification. They want to know what form of certification would be cost effective, domestically managed and still internationally recognised? The businesses thought MAST could really make a difference to Nepal being viewed as a responsible destination if an affordable and credible certification scheme formed a component of a MAST phase II, we need to inspire confidence in Nepals responsible travel market so certification must come from elsewhere because an NTB green leaf award would not have credibility. Nepal should sign up to an international standard. Ive read about some of the Caribbean resort certifications which are quite good. MAST could see what they do because Nepal cant create something that installs confidence internationally. 10.6 International Marketing Some companies saw that a MAST phase II should emphasize marketing more and play a role in promoting Nepal as a responsible travel destination. MAST phase II should bring more niche tour operators to Nepal who are also responsible but may not be aware of what Nepal has to offer. For example cultural tour operators who only work in London. Show them what Nepal has to offer and how they could help. A number of businesses wanted more information about dealing with international tour operators, When there is training it should teach about discipline. How to talk, eat, dress, what questions to ask. You know the dos and donts of tourism marketing. How do you keep international tour operators interested? Even how to talk on the phone. Communication is important. Reminder emails and calls are important but how should we handle these? How do we target certain markets and create long lasting partnerships? People develop products but dont know how to promote them so offering market assistance is really important. A lot of tourism is copycat but no innovation. We need to move forward and do more. We need more training on tour development, product development and market linkages. The market linkages in the last one didnt work well. Some companies felt that a great achievement of MAST was getting companies and Nepal profiled in National Geographic magazine and thought there should be more of this promotion facilitated in a phase II: Bring more reporters to Nepal to profile responsible businesses and Nepal. The underlying concept of MAST is good and it should keep going. The MAST website is nice but static. It should also be search engine friendly so it bangs up first. We should work toward utilizing the website better as a portal rather than just a website. The website should also sell and not just provide information. That way it could be put in social media marketing and other portals. It is clear that MAST captured the imagination of participants but that businesses still feel dependent on a development project to help the sector as a whole and confused about the role

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of development partners and who should market the Nepal tourism industry. There are limits to what a business can achieve in terms of creating the enabling environment for growth in a sector. GoN should be more involved in phase II and the home of MAST should be embedded in existing tourism organisations. Businesses see the potential and scope for a more responsible tourism sector in Nepal as limitless.

11.

MAST Has Immense Potential for the Local Economy

MAST clearly achieved its purpose as outlined in the project document; The project was designed to expand business opportunities for tourism entrepreneurs (from tour operators to hotels) in Nepal by building their capacity to develop and deliver responsible tourism products, understand how to market themselves as a responsible travel company and by linking them to the European sustainable tourism market. Marketing incentives were used to encourage behaviour change towards more responsible business practices. MAST chose participants well, used appropriate learning methodology, and motivated participants to implement responsible actions and networks outside the project. While some of the action plans that were implemented during MAST were unsuccessful they have been replaced by new initiatives that appear to be working. As Last Resort explained, we learnt a lot from our organic vegetable initiative. We did too much for the women and they didnt appreciate or own the idea. Now when we work with the community we make sure they are involved the whole time and realise that they get out of it what they put into it. MAST was a pilot project and lessons have been learnt by the donors, implementing partners and participants. Importantly, the projects benefits have not ended with the businesses gains. Collectively the activities implemented during MAST and those participants have initiated on their own since the project finished have had a significant positive impact on the tourism industry and the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural landscape of Nepal. Businesses have established a sense of ethical responsibility and recognise the potential of responsible travel. There have been a number of indirect benefits from MAST and these will continue to multiply as companies copy and adapt MAST teachings illustrating the projects sustainability. While the marketing mechanisms were designed to promote, motivate, and reward sustainable companies, many businesses wanted to learn more on the marketing side. They did not just see it as a reward but something that offered immense value to their business. They were convinced early on of the value of being responsible. What they want to know is how to embrace this aspect of their business. How do they access more of this niche market and what responsible networks exist that they can join? Many participants have realised the limitations in trying to be sustainable especially as a lone business. They would like further assistance to improve government policy, the tourism industry and regulations that discourage responsible practice. They want the whole tourism industry of Nepal to be aware of the benefits of responsible business practice. They see that phase II of MAST could add some real value in this regard. A MAST phase II would be advantageous in many ways, most particularly to keep the momentum going and increase responsible travel practice in Nepal, improve sectoral governance, increase tourism benefits to the poor and improve the livelihoods of the Nepalese people, minimize tourism related environmental damage and preserve and promote the local socio-cultural lifestyle. Given the limited impact figures available the return on investment for MAST is estimated at more than quadruple (when considering business profit increases, overhead reductions and money spent on local products) showing the viability of a phase II. With additional focus on ongoing mentoring and what is required to secure business from international tour operators, a second phase MAST project has immense potential for the local economy, especially in terms of the economic flow-on affect evident in this impact assessment.

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