July 7, 2015
Nepal has long been recognized as one of the world’s most desirable outdoor playgrounds, offering activities like mountaineering, trekking, river rafting and jungle safaris, to name a few. Few sights are more breathtaking than Mount Everest—especially if its snow-covered summit is seen at eye-level from a commercial airliner flying to Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains.
On 25th April 2015 an earthquake struck the central region of Nepal in the Gorkha district just north of the main highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. The earthquake was followed by a number of severe aftershocks and as a result, there were more than 8000 people found dead, thousands more injured. April’s earthquake has also dealt the most devastating blow to Nepal’s tourism industry. Hotels damaged, trekking routes wiped out, and Kathmandu’s World Heritage sites lie in ruins.
Yet Nepal has not lost its sprite and determination to bounce back. Tourism entrepreneurs, experts and officials believe that the impact of the Gorkha Earthquake will not be long-term, and such is the draw of Nepal, its mountains and people that tourists will start coming back. Nepal reopened its temple filled Durbar Squares to the public.
At a programme recently organized by Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Eastern Region, in association with the Consulate of Nepal, Kolkata, Mr Anil Punjabi, the Chairman of TAFI began his inaugural speech by stressing on extending full support to Nepal so the country can regain lost glory. He also made a request to Air India to offer special fares and subsidized packages.
At the same event, Mrs. Maitrayee Roy, Honorable PRR, Nepal Tourism Board, Kolkata, said, “Nepal reopened most of the heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley on Monday amid safety concerns raised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). The move is aimed at reviving tourism in the impoverished Himalayan nation, which was hit by two massive earthquakes in April and May that devastated the region and killed thousands.”
Mrs Roy brought to our notice that Roads and air transport links remain intact across the country and the majority of hotels and restaurants are in operation. “Most trekking areas except Manaslu and Langtang have not been damaged by the Earthquake and trekking can be undertaken any time in these areas,” she said, adding, Chitwan, Pokhara, Annapurna region and Bardia also escaped widespread damage, and are ready to showcase their abundance of natural life. The birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini, did not suffer damage and is thankfully all set to welcome visitors back to its sacred soil.”
It was then up to Mr. Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Consulate General of Nepal, to further elaborates the measures taken by the Nepal Tourism Board to revive the tourism industry.
A government committee has inspected all hotel buildings, of the Kathmandu and marks them with Red, Yellow and Green stickers. Out of 400 hotels only 40 received red stickers. All five-star hotels in the capital have got safe green stickers.
“Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Nepalese economy, and Nepal will certainly need the income that tourism brings in as it attempts to recover from this disaster. We are urging tourist to come to Nepal to help Nepal rebuild,” said Mr. Ghimire.
He also informed that six of the seven heritage sites closed after the earthquakes were reopened 15th June 2015. The historic Durbar squares or ‘noble courts’ are among the sites reopened. The Kathmandu Valley is listed on the World Heritage list, along with Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, in southern Nepal.
There are many beautiful and captivating cultural and natural sites in the West, Mid-West, Far West and East Nepal that await tourists to welcome there. Out of 75 districts of Nepal, only 14 districts are damaged. Apart from Langtang, Manaslu and Gaurishankar, other 14 national parks and conservation areas including Everest, Annapurna, Kanchanjunga areas withsood the earthquake with strength and power.
The international community has gone out of its way to help Nepal, and that could be Nepal’s strongest selling point. We just need to convert that goodwill into a willingness to visit, mentioned Mr. Ghimire, Consulate General of Nepal.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala invited Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to visit Janakpur, Lumbini and Muktinath.
A detailed tête-à-tête with Mr. Phurba Khambachen Sherpa and Mr. Gupta Bdr. Singh Giri, representative from Shangri-La Hotel revealed that the situation has become normal especially in Kathmandu and that the flow of tourists will automatically help revive and rebuild the nation.
Members of the Nepal Tourism Board request East Indian travelers to visit the magnificent and bustling country of Nepal and support her as she attempts to stand proudly on her feet once again. Walk the beautiful trails in the shadow of the most magnificent mountains on earth as you help the Nepalese people reset their course on the path to prosperity. Nepal is now embarking upon the most fascinating period in all of its ancient history and you could be right there to see it happen and your contribution will be a part of rebuilding new Nepal.