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The Annapurna Conservation Area Project: tourists as agents of development and environmental management in the high Himalaya?

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The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) strives to blend environmental and cultural conservation with economic development in the Nepali Himalayas. At the heart of ACAP's strategy, is a programme of sustainable tourism. This paper seeks to contribute to a broader assessment of ACAP's work. It focuses on the part one specific constituency ? foreign trekkers ? play in helping deliver the project's goals. Based on interviews conducted with western tourists in the region, this paper assesses the extent to which trekkers are engaged with the ACAP mission. The research found that, although foreign tourists, on the whole, acted in an environmentally responsible manner whilst enjoying their time in the Annapurna region, they were not particularly aware of the work that ACAP undertook. This paper suggests that if policy adjustments are made by ACAP, and awareness levels raised, then trekkers could play an increased role as agents for development and conservation in the high Himalaya.

Keywords: tourism, Nepal, trekking, environmental impact, sustainable development, Annapurna Conservation Area Project, ACAP, poverty alleviation, capacity building, cultural conservation, Himalayas, environmental management, sustainability, Nepal, cultural conservation, western tourists

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