Tourism Impacts on Local Culture, Heritage and Architecture in the High Himalayan Settlements
Keywords:Architecture, Heritage, High Himalayan Settlements, Local Culture, Tourism Impacts
Tourism specifically ecotourism has been considered as an alternative approach to enhance community benefits vis-a-vis protection of natural and cultural heritage in the indigenous settlements. This study considers a case of indigenous communities from the high Himalayan settlements, such as the Everest region, to examine the perceived community impacts of tourism on Sherpa culture, heritage and architecture and explore whether local cultural heritage has been preserved or deteriorated with the growth of tourism. It has adopted a qualitative approach with descriptive and explanatory methods employing multiple tools of data collection such as household’s survey, key informants interview, participant observation, informal discussion with local residents and archival research for examining the socio-cultural impacts of tourism. The survey results revealed that tourism has induced both positive and negative impacts on architecture, heritage and socio-cultural attributes of local residents. Although tourism has improved the local economic condition as well as social facilities and infrastructure in the settlements; the authenticity and significance of local culture, traditions and architectural heritage have been severely threatened by the rapid growth of tourism. The unplanned and uncontrolled growth of tourism along with lack of education and awareness among residents and tourism stakeholders about conservation of local cultural heritage are responsible for the deterioration of cultural heritage. In addition, lack of proper by-laws and control on the construction of private buildings, and no specific attention towards continuing the vernacular architecture, and cultural practices has pushed Sherpa communities towards crisis of cultural identity and authenticity. This study suggests formulating comprehensive policies of conservation of local cultural heritage and sustainable tourism and adopting an inclusive planning approach to promote sustainable community development in the Himalayas.
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