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MyGHTi

Empower Female Dignity – Create Transformative Experiences – Promote Regenerative Enterprises

Welcome to MyGHTi!

 

Empower Female Dignity – Create Transformative Experiences – Promote Regenerative Enterprises

Pronounced ‘mi-ght-y‘, we hope that the MyGHTi project will transform the GHT and realise the amazing potential of tourism to benefit hosts and guests across the Himalaya! At MyGHTi, we believe that the best guide is a local and the kindest place is a home; the essence of travel is the relationship between a guest and their host.

MyGHTi is a new idea born out of ten years of successes and failures along the Great Himalaya Trail. We want to fundamentally improve the nature of community tourism, reduce impacts and increase sustainability across Nepal, Bhutan and India.

 

MyGHTi

Mock-up of the MyGHTi APP – help us put this in the hands of local women and trekkers!

MyGHTi Vision

Empowering women to have the time and resources to host guests and provide transformative experiences along the Great Himalaya Trail and thus promote thriving regenerative micro-enterprises.

MyGHTi Goals

  • Empower female-owned enterprises to control and manage tourism within their communities and distribute profits to local social causes.
  • Host-communities will be recognised as the primary custodians and guardians of fragile Himalayan landscapes, cultures and traditions.
  • To be world-renowned for offering unique transformative experiences in exceptionally scenic, remote and diverse landscapes.
  • Work towards permanent protection for all Himalayan landscapes, as well as keeping them well maintained and effectively managed.
  • The GHT will achieve its goals through enhancing the strength and commitment of community groups, staff and volunteers, and the broader adventure travel community.

 

MyGHTi

MyGHTi Mission

Integrate Sustainable Principles in All Activities –MyGHTi will adhere to the principles of sustainability by incorporating thr UN Sustainable Development Goals in to all activities and processes.

Co-Creation with Host Communities – by using internationally recognised best practice in community-based tourism development, MyGHTi will co-create female-owned micro-enterprises to control and manage adventure tourism (SDG 5), develop training programs for guiding, kitchen and porters, facilitate local supply of foodstuffs (SDG 4), establish SOPs, sustainability standards and protocols for all community assets including clean latrines and safe water supply (SDG 6), assist in developing value-addition services and products (SDG 8, for example, trekking massage, hot stone baths, cooking classes, flora and fauna knowledge/spotting, planting/harvesting activities, handicraft design).

Implement Safer Trails –MyGHTi will implement a track, trace and communication system, develop online and offline trail documentation, enable host-community owned accommodation and supply of nutritious and healthy meals (SDG 3), assess regular trail maintenance, develop an inclusive system of trail design and development, institute activity safety and impact assessments, and encourage inter- and intra-community enterprise cooperation (SDG 8).

Secure Bookings and Promotions –MyGHTi will manage listings of quality host-community-owned accommodation, services and facilities, develop a micro-payment system, develop a Triple-Bottom-Line accounting and management system for community enterprises (SDG 9), establish linkages with OTAs and adventure industry, collaborate on promotional materials with DMOs (national, provincial and municipal) and industry (SDG 16), maintain a comprehensive online presence and develop user-friendly apps.

Recognition Membership –MyGHTi will develop a membership-system to inform and recognise GHT trekkers, volunteers, staff and businesses (operators, equipment, insurance and services), promote story-sharing about communities, staff and trekkers,  develop ‘Get Trekking’ education materials for communities, trekkers and businesses, report on sponsorship programs and regularly distribute information through newsletters, website and app.

MyGHTi boot prints

MyGHTi Values

Enabling Empowerment – MyGHTi is committed to developing positive long-term host community relationships that prioritise female education, healthcare, social empowerment, as well as wildlife and environmental protection. We will prioritise traditional and cultural activities that encourage visitor participation and work through mother’s groups whenever possible.

Co-Creating Collaborations – MyGHTi will work together with communities through collaborative partnerships that use local assets and resources to co-create transformative experiences and promote regenerative enterprises. We are committed to co-creation through mutual trust and respect with our all of our partners, and we strive to resolve differences when they may emerge with respect, civility and compassion.

Imbedding Integrity – MyGHTi’s success and reputation depend on our integrity, so we endeavour to use consistent, reliable decision-making to guide our efforts. We apply common sense and sound judgment to our work, and recognise our responsibility and accountability to use contributions and resources that best support the needs of women and host communities.

Stewarding Philanthropy – MyGHTi accepts the responsibility to assist community stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, including future generations. We encourage individuals and organisations to invest in programs that keep the GHT wild and accessible. We recognise that we could not achieve our mission without the generosity, commitment and support of our volunteers, communities and donors who share these values.

Passionate Leadership – Passion and interest for MyGHTi transformative experiences continues to spread, inspiring remarkable contributions from host communities, trekkers, volunteers, staff, partners, and the broader adventure travel community. We acknowledge our role as custodians and guardians of the GHT and to mentor future leadership and passion for the MyGHTi.

MyGHTi boot prints

MyGHTi System Actors: Communities, Guests, Administration, Government and Industry

This section describes how we intended to Empower Female Dignity, then Create Transformative Tourism Experiences that Promote and Support Regenerative Enterprises in remote mountain communities along the Great Himalaya Trail.

MyGHTi Communities: Host-led Products and Services

Goal: Increase the benefits for hosts when they share their home and lives.

Key Benefits: improved health, hygiene practices, nutrition and water quality, vital direct income through community groups, accountability and responsibility for managing tourism, empowerment and giving a voice to marginalised and remote peoples, recognition of community value and relevance.

In remote mountain communities, tourism relies predominantly on women for accommodation and sustenance. Women are also the guardians of culture and traditions, which means that they are both a host and a knowledge-asset for guests. Unfortunately, up to 25% of day-to-day life is seriously disrupted during menstruation and this places women in a great deal of time-stress that significantly reduces guest interactions. To be able to create meaningful interactions and transformative experiences between guests and hosts, it is necessary to reduce time-stress and eliminate menstrual restrictions. Empowerment and dignity are symbiotic, just as guests and hosts work together to create transformation and enhanced wisdom.

The MyGHTi enables women in host communities to become the key decision makers in where, how and why guests interact with them. This means that women should decide where trails go and how they are managed, where and how guests are cared for and interact with residents, co-create ideas for new and improved products, and benefit from economies of scale by combining with other communities for greater resilience.

Training and Skills development is the lubricant of the Great Himalaya Trail. Communities require curated courses in customer service, trail maintenance, electricity supply maintenance, water resource management, MyGHTi booking system use, communication and reporting systems, enterprise management, negotiating skills, planning for local supply of meal ingredients, general housekeeping (cleanliness, tidiness, hygiene), health issues response, community products and services (handicraft design and quality, trekking massage, hot-stone baths, cooking classes, flora and fauna spotting, community participatory activities – for example, rice panting, harvesting, etc).

To reflect the importance of hosts in the tourism value chain, the MyGHTi allows community groups to receive bookings directly and control the responsible and sustainable management of their own resources. The MyGHTi combines tried and tested Community Based Tourism tools with traditional land-use practices to create regenerative enterprises that distribute economic benefit directly to participating local hosts.

The MyGHTi approach of co-creating community tourism and including collaborative partnerships with industry and government increases product resilience and appeal, as well as ensuring that transformative experiences are genuine and unique. The GHT introduces simple, common-sense Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs), which are monitored by visitors and bi-annual independent auditors. The result is increased host responsibility and accountability, direct financial benefits, empowerment and recognition, and improvements to general living conditions.

MyGHTi Guests: Trekkers and Adventure Operators

Goal: Helping guests book transformative experiences that add value to hosts.

Key Benefits: improved safety and security, increased contactability and traceability, deeper and stronger positive social and economic connections and impacts, itinerary diversification and flow distribution, reduced leakages, enhanced promotional capacity.

The duration and scope of activities along the Great Himalaya Trail is enormous, spanning the length of the Himalaya, across four countries and including more than 7500km of trails. Hundreds of welcoming host communities showcase traditional mountain life, that offer unique opportunities for guests to learn and enjoy participating in every-day lives.

Guest trekkers are the fuel of the Great Himalaya Trail. Their desire for transformative experiences will provide direct income to communities. In practical terms, this involves a guest learning about and booking experiences online and then immersing participating in community activities.

Guest trekkers need to be able to securely book goods and services, for example, accommodation bookings (both in advance and in-field), purchase food, beverages, products (handicrafts and GHT merchandise) and services (guiding, porterage., massage, hot-stone baths, classes and local activities). The MyGHTi needs to build awareness and motivate guests to make bookings through the website, which will generate income and maintain a steady, although small flow, of guests moving through communities. Additionally, twice a year, the GHT will hold a Trek Auction through a fundraising website that highlights social and environmental benefits to the GHT. Collaborations will be developed with trekking companies and online travels agents (OTAs) who will also book accommodation and other services. Donors will be encouraged to support field development programs and advertisers can associate with communities and activities.

OTAs and trekking companies can create itineraries by combining products from the GHT product pool or customising products directly with communities.  The GHT facilitates direct channels of communication between the market and host communities, resulting in increased knowledge and skills flowing through the entire value-chain. By building strong demand drivers the MyGHTi  opens opportunities for increases in added-value-differentiation of guest experiences, reduced financial leakages through the booking process, increased in-field security, greater industry transparency and a broader distribution of guests to less popular regions.

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MyGHTi with Government Cooperation and Industry Regeneration

Goal: Establishing a pathway to create regenerative enterprises and industries.

Key Benefits: enhance destination reputation and branding, reduce financial leakages and migration, increase community resilience and coherence, improve fiscal responsibility and decision making, create direct channels to localised community development, encourage permanent protection of fragile landscapes, improve industry digital skills.

Based on the principles of circular (aka doughnut or solidarity) economics combined with sustainable and responsible tourism standards, the MyGHTi follows a ‘best sustainable practice in action’ approach to community-based tourism and industry development. The destination benefits from an enhanced reputation and strengthened brand proposition. Policy improvement is encouraged in banking and forex management, and community governance and reporting. Additionally, investments in communication systems and infrastructure become viable and prioritised, and fragile eco-systems and communities are recognised as highly valuable resources to be protected and preserved.

Although the MyGHTi takes a bottom-up approach to enhancing the guest-host relationship to produce transformational tourism experiences, there is also an imperative to support pro-active government approaches to industry transformation that create resilient regenerative enterprises of all sizes. To this end, the MyGHTi will actively support all initiatives that create sustainability-based policies, increase the area of permanently protected landscapes, cultures and traditions, and enforce and reward sustainable industry best practices.

The MyGHTi will facilitate and support all sustainability-focused programs that are developed through co-creative collaborations between communities, industry and government bodies. The GHT will also support and promote all community-based programs that enhance digital skills and knowledge.

Kanchenjunga and Makalu Treks

MyGHTi Administration: Finance, Monitoring & Reporting

Goal: Establishing transparency and accountability as best practice at all levels of tourism.

Key Benefits: co-create Triple Bottom Line accounting standards with communities, improve fiscal responsibility and decision-making capacity, provide a resilient source of funding to community groups, establish transparency and accountability through the value chain, commercial recognition of community asset management.

There are two critical problems with current mountain tourism experiences from a guest and host perspective; (1) in-field safety and security, especially during emergencies, and (2) a lack of financial transparency concerning guest payments for host-provided goods and services due to third party intermediaries. The MyGHTi booking system solves both of these problems with a simple, elegant solution that provides additional value in terms of social empowerment, community development, and tourism industry sustainability and resilience.

The MyGHTi provides a secure, reliable and transparent system for receiving and processing financial transactions between guests and hosts. Guests (individuals and organisations) will be able to book and purchase host products and services online or through the MyGHTi. The app also ensures that guest location can be confirmed every day, which significantly assists communication and potential evacuation. Trekking operators and OTAs currently use third parties (for example, trekking guides) to handle in-field payments for accommodation, food and beverages. Accurate financial reporting for these items is lacking, which reduces profitability and thus investment in products and services.

The MyGHTi will hold payments and commissions in trust until guests have checked out from their booking. The system relies on MSME micro-payments that are already established in Nepal. Reporting and monitoring will include Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting, live-time in-field reporting and carbon-foot-printing of itineraries and activities.

Communities will register their own not-for-profit trekking and tour company, which trades directly with guests and residents for products and services (guides, cooks, porters, accommodation, food and rations). Profits will be disbursed for community-benefit projects and all transactions reported through a transparent TBL system. MyGHTi will also raise income through donated funding, membership programs, trek-auctions, agency commissions, advertising and the sale of GHT merchandise (maps, books, scratch cards, badges, etc).

MyGHTi will follow and share international best practices for financial and administration management. Project participants who compromise the transparency, accountability or principles of MyGHTi finance and reporting standards will be sanctioned and potentially excluded.

MyGHTi boot prints

THE MyGHTi PATH: STEPS 1-5

Our 5-Step Path involves achievable, incremental steps that gradually propel MyGHTi towards our goal. Experience has taught us that everyone involved must first attain the same level of understanding and practice before embarking on the next step.

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Would you like more information about MyGHTi?

We’d love to tell you and get you involved if that’s what you’d like? Please contact us for more information!

Or perhaps you want to know a bit more about the background to MyGHTi? Then check out this interview with Robin at midlandstraveller.com

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