Since the early 1990s, Nepal has steadily transformed into a globalised economy, in part driven by its reputation as the prime travel destination for mountaineers. Last year, our second winner, Sarah Battersby, spent four weeks in Nepal, travelling from the Rolwaling Trail to Kathmandu before ending her exploration in Pokhara, all the while documenting her experiences of globalisation.
‘During my trip, I was able to communicate with merchants, trekking guides, schoolchildren and other members of isolated communities,’ says Sarah. ‘People in the region have become part of global markets due to the globalising eff ect of tourism.’ She recalls some penny-drop moments from her trail days: ‘At 2,000 metres elevation, a little girl clutched the latest Samsung phone, despite living in a house with no windows, bed, or shower. We could clearly see how globalisation was infl uencing the aspirations of remote communities.’
In 2004, some 338,100 tourists visited Nepal – by 2014, that figure had increased to 790,000. However, the Gorkha earthquake of 2015 saw the sector take a huge hit, with tourist numbers dropping by 31 per cent in a single year. Researchers estimate that 700,000 people fell below the poverty line.
Sarah is interested in the over-reliance of some economies on tourism and the associated risks: ‘There’s so much dependency on tourism. Although it brings huge revenue, there needs to be alternatives. It’s a fragile industry – we saw that with the fallout of the Gorkha earthquake, and we’re seeing it now during Covid-19.’
Sarah wants to keep learning about globalisation in other destinations. ‘We can overcome the dependency on globalisation by boosting sustainable businesses independent of tourism,’ she says. ‘Peru would be an incredibly interesting case study, and is the next destination I’d like to research’.