Informal sector

“I have taken numbers of trainings. This training is different to any other ToTs (Training of Trainers). This ToT will definitely help to deliver effective training for the illiterate people also” – Sarswati Limbu, a participant of the HITT Learning Approach ToT, expressed her view during the ToT closing ceremony.

The impact of Travel and Tourism on Nepal’s economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, was the direct contribution of 412 500 jobs and 4% of GDP in 2011. According to the International Labour Organisation, over 70% of the economically active population is involved in the informal economy. While these statistics are not directly connected, they would suggest that the market for HITT’s work in Nepal in large.

While the advantages of working in the informal economy are often well-publicised – avoiding tax etc – there are also numerous downsides. Informal workers are often subjected to extremely heavy workloads, unsociable hours, ‘attached’ labour, unhealthy conditions, lack of skills and inability to access training, lack of formal written contracts that provide accountability, harassment and discrimination based on gender, caste or locality, and fragile job security.

HITT aims to equip informal workers to capitalize on tourism opportunities after benefitting from practical, market-oriented training and strengthen links with the formal tourism sector. In this way, many of the disadvantages of being employed in the informal sector can be eradicated and workers can enjoy a fairer system of work that offers opportunities rather than restrictions and exploitation. As displayed by Sarswati’s words, HITT’s Learning Approach training model is not limited in effectiveness to literate workers, but will be much more widely applicable.

The five occupations focused on by the HITT programme – assistant cook, waiter, housekeepers, trekking guides, and homestay/lodge operators – are occupations that are usually found in the informal sector and as such are in many ways outside of government economic control. By enacting high quality vocational training schemes for these occupations, the effects will be felt directly by the beneficiaries trained, by future beneficiaries trained by partner organisations as part of a more long-term work, and through a multiplier effect as these beneficiaries spend their disposable income in the local economy.