Perceptions of trekking tourism and social and environmental change in Nepal's Himalayas

Gyan P. Nyaupane, Alan A. Lew, Kevin Tatsugawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The Himalayas are among the world's youngest mountain ranges. In addition to the geologic processes of mountain building and erosion, they are also highly vulnerable to human influenced change, occurring at local, national, regional, and international scales. A photo-elicitation methodology is employed to show how residents perceive those changes from historical perspectives, as well as their current conditions and impacts on their daily lives. Nepal's Khumbu region has undergone major social and environmental transformations since the 1960s when international trekking first began to influence the area's economy. The current perceptions of Khumbu residents of these changes are assessed through photo-elicitation interviews. Their responses are placed in the historical context of: (1) institutional and political changes, most of which have been driven by national government policies; (2) social and economic changes, for which the tourism economy has been central; and (3) environmental changes, reflecting the impacts of resource management and climate change. The mostly positive perceptions of Khumbu residents toward how their region has changed reflects general improvements in the physical and cultural landscapes of the Khumbu over time, as well as its continuing geographic isolation, which has helped to slow the rate of globalization, while also keeping the region a dynamic and popular tourist destination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-437
Number of pages23
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Sagarmatha National Park
  • Sherpa
  • community development
  • environmental perceptions
  • global change
  • mountain regions
  • photo elicitation
  • sustainable tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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