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Tibetan call for "Eco-Tourism"

19 April 2007

Khamsum Metok, a young Tibetan born in Lithang, East Tibet, gave a talk and slide show on establishing eco-tourism in Tibet.

In the past Tibet was ecologically stable and conservation of the environment was an essential part of daily life. Tibetans lived in harmony with nature guided by Buddhist principles that the environment should be used to fulfil one's needs and not be exploited. A part of Metok's work involves organising community outreach programmes to raise awareness among young Tibetans of the importance of conservation, a traditionally held belief now in decline in recent years.

There is a growing evidence that new network of roads, airports and railways, and more people coming into the region begin to show a negative impact on the region's wildlife and environment. Metok, who works on conservation projects with foreign NGOs said, "I welcome this booming tourism business in our homeland. However, this tourism industry must balance the drive for profit and the damage it may bring upon to our local wildlife and the environment. I think it is essential to promote eco-tourism and I am keen to work positively with international NGOs on matters concerning preservation of our wildlife and environment."

Her passion for the conservation of wildlife resulted in setting up the Snow Land Cuckoo Conservation and Protection Society after her return to Lithang in 2004 from Beijing. Realising the benefits of tourism Metok said, "We want to engage local people and business through the use of local guides, home-stays and various modes of traditional and modern transportations. It is hoped that tourism, which is sure to increase, will serve to increase local communities' awareness of their natural environment whilst providing them with alternative sources of income. Through eco-tourism our organisation will plan itineraries that are being responsible, respectful and considerate of local communities."

Metok, who graduated from the Beijing Management Institute, majoring in Financial Management, is currently on a UK Scholarship to improve her English language skills, funded by Tibet Foundation.

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