A.V. Jim Edwards

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Jim Edwards, who died recently in Kathmandu (March 2009), "was one of the pioneers of tourism in Nepal, along with his friends Boris Lissanevitch and Colonel Jimmy Roberts...

Travel further afield was put on hold and he spent a year exploring the Terai jungles, hunting, and fishing, largely in the remote Karnali region in far west Nepal. Jim also worked around this time with the new USAID Mission in Kathmandu, managing logistics.

"In 1964, Jim teamed up with American anthropologist turned wildlife ecologist, Dr Charles (Chuck) McDougal and started the first wildlife tourism company, Nepal Wildlife Adventure, to operate jungle treks, fishing and hunting expeditions. It was the beginning of a long and distinguished career in the travel industry. In 1969, with his mind set on learning more about the travel trade, Jim enrolled in the Pan American World Airways Management Training Course, in New York. In his absence, Chuck McDougal continued to run Nepal Wildlife Adventure, while Jim in return, was able to send many clients to their company from the US and Europe. Finishing his course, he worked for Pan Am in Sales, Marketing, and Public Relations in New York City for three years.

"In Kathmandu, there was a small community of foreigners who all knew each other. On a tip-off from Boris Lissanevitch, Nepal’s pioneer hotelier, Jim heard of Tiger Tops a small camp in the Chitwan rhino reserve that was in need of improved management. Elected a fellow of the prestigious Explorer’s Club in New York in 1967, Jim met the owners of Tiger Tops, Texan millionaires and big game hunters, Herb Klein and Toddy Lee Wynne. At their request, in 1971, Jim and Chuck McDougal took over the Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge that the Texans had built in the 1960s as a wildlife tourism enterprise in Chitwan where they had enjoyed hunting safaris. With Chuck’s hard work on the wildlife, his brother, John Edwards, on the operational side, and Jim’s marketing and business flair, they turned Tiger Tops into a famous conservation tourism model. Jim used his contacts in Pan Am and the World Wildlife Fund, to help lobby the Nepal government to turn Chitwan into a National Park and it was gazetted in 1973. In 1974, Jim teamed up with Colonel Jimmy Roberts, the pioneer of Himalayan trekking who had started Mountain Travel, the first trekking company in the world. Thus was formed Tiger Mountain, very much Jim’s group of adventure travel companies throughout Nepal and India. Over the 1970s and 1980s, the group of companies included partnerships with lodges in Madhya Pradesh, Kashmir, and Karnataka in India, expanded camps in Nepal and activities in Sri Lanka. Tiger Mountain pioneered tourism in Ladakh and organised early tours in Bhutan and Tibet A chance meeting with explorer, Col. John Blashford-Snell, led to pioneering descents of Nepal’s Trishuli River, resulting in the establishment of Himalayan River Exploration, the first river running company in South Asia. Jim’s last major project was the establishment of a permanent lodge on Prince Charles’s “Royal Trek” route operated by Mountain Travel in 1980. Jim’s eldest son, Kristjan, supervised the project. Sir Edmund Hillary opened Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge in 1998.

"Seeing the effective manner in which tourism, carefully and sensitively managed, could be a positive force for conservation, Jim, and his colleagues formed the International Trust for Nature Conservation, a UK registered charity with a mandate to support conservation initiatives around the world. ITNC has supported various conservation projects in Nepal and India. Jim is widely recognised for his immense contribution to Nepal’s tourism industry, setting standards of adventure tourism that are admired all over Asia. At a time when Nepalese corporate management was in its infancy, Jim’s constant concern was to provide opportunity to many Nepalese, often with limited education, and to set the standards for caring and inclusive management that remains the hallmark of Tiger Mountain today. It was a matter of great pride to Jim that Mrs Gandhi commented, “Why do we have to look to Nepal to learn how to manage wildlife tourism lodges.”

"For his contribution to Nepal’s tourism industry, Jim Edwards was the recipient of many awards and accolades. Jim founded the World Elephant Polo Association in 1981 with James Manclark and ran the annual World Championships at Meghauli, Chitwan, a tribute to his sense of humour, marketing acumen, and enjoyment of a fine party. Elephant polo attracted many celebrities and further promoted Tiger Tops as well as raising funds for many charities." [1]

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  1. A.V. Jim Edwards 24th November 1935 to 23rd March 2009, Tiger Mountain, accessed June 8, 2009.