The Sixth Accessible Tourism Day of Nepal was celebrated on 30 March 2023 with travel along the ‘wheeltrek trail’ at Basuki Thumka, a hill flank at Sanga Village, Kavre District. More than 40 wheelchair users partiicpated, together with scores of well-wishers, people’s representatives, accessibility experts, community leaders and government officials.
The winding wheeltrek trail, as planned, will take wheelchair users over two kilometers of mild gradient to the top of the Basuki Thumka. A 400 metre section of the trail through pristine pine forest has been complete with the help of the Bagmati Provincial Government and local community. When the full trail is complete, from the top of the hill visitors will be able to take in a broad panorama of the Himalayan chain to the north as well as views of Kathamandu Valley and the surrounding hillsides.
Nepal’s Accessible Tourism Day began to be marked on 30 March 2018, at the initiation of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the International Development Institute (IDI) and Four Seasons Travels & Tours. The celebration this year at Basuki Thumka was organised by the Spinal Injury Sangh Nepal (SISN), with the support of the above-mentioned organisations as well as the Miral Welfare Foundation and the Sanga village community.
The ‘Basuki Thumka Wheeltrek Trail’ observation was led by Member of Bagmati Provincial Assembly Hon. Laxmi Ghimire, a person with spinal cord injury and a wheelchair user, as well as Dr. Shanta Dixit, Chair of the SISN which runs the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC). Community leader Uddhav KC thanked all wheelchair users and supporters for attending, and expressed the hope that besides being a destination for domestic and international tourists, the wheeltrek trail would help support the local economy.
The wheeltrek tour was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Tourism for All’, held at the Spinal Injury Rehabiliation Centre (SIRC), which is located at the base of the Basuki Thumka hillside. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Raju Dhakal, Medical Director of SIRC, who highlighted the importance of wheelchair tourism for physical and mental wellbeing of the spinally injured.
Kanak Mani Dixit, founder chairperson of SIRC who envisioned the project, led the discussion by explaining his coinage of the term ‘wheeltrek’, whose goal was to allow wheelchair users to enjoy the hills and mountains trails of Nepal as do other trekkers. He suggested that wheeltreks in Nepal can be a source of enjoyment for domestic as well as international wheelchair users, and also contribute to the national economy as accessible tourism progresses.
Among the panelists, Suman Ghimire, senior manager of Nepal Tourism Board, expressed the commitment of his organisation to support the goals of ‘Tourism for All’ through promotion of accessibility. Suman Raj Timsina, Director of IDI, highlighted efforts thus far to promote wheelchair trails in Nepal, including in Dhulikhel and Pokhara. Pankaj Pradhananga, Director of Four Seasons Travel & Tours, said the commitment of the Government and dynamism of the private sector would go a long way in ensuring success of the campaign for barrier-free accessible tourism.