Tourism: Boon or Bain? An Institutional Analysis of Tourism as a Commons Resource in Upper Mustang Nepal.

Authors: Tashi Gurung*, 1991
Topics: Asia, Asia, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Himalayan Region, Upper Mustang, Tourism, Institutions, Inequity, Commons
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


The tourism industry in the Upper Mustang region, Nepal has grown rapidly in the past decade. While still at a nascent stage, tourism has alleviated household economic challenges through diversification of livelihood options, but the industry is stressing the environmental landscape and cultural institutions. Limited livelihood options, lack of infrastructure, geographic and political isolation and harsh environmental conditions, are ongoing challenges to improving economic livelihoods in Upper Mustang. This poster addresses two questions: 1) How do institutional arrangements structure tourism impacts in the region of Upper Mustang, Nepal?, and 2) Can existing institutional arrangements improve the robustness of tourism in Upper Mustang? I start by conceptualizing tourism as a commons resource and tourism as a component of a social-ecological system. Using the [IAD] framework, I analyze underlying institutional problems associated with tourism, i.e. challenges of unique appropriation (degradation of natural systems, cultural values, and economic implications), provision of soft (norms, rules, and regulations) and hard (roads, trekking routes, hotels etc.) human-made infrastructure, and monitoring of sanctions associated with tourism. Data consists of qualitative interviews and survey questionnaire with residents 25 villages in Upper Mustang in summer of 2018. Preliminary results suggest that under current institutional arrangements, the benefit: cost ratio of tourism is not favorable to a majority of Upper Mustang residents and that tourism benefits currently are strongly inequitable. It is the objective of this research to contribute in making policy decisions in Upper Mustang that optimize the positive impacts and reduce the negative impacts of tourism.

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