Nepal is open for busi­ness

Travel Bulletin - - NEPAL -

In­tera­sia’s di­rec­tor Dan Ne­bauer says the Nepal has been ready for at least eight months, but tourists have been hes­i­tant to flock back.

“There’s so much neg­a­tive press fol­low­ing the earth­quake that it put peo­ple off trav­el­ling and there hasn’t been enough good press about it to say ‘hey, it’s all okay, the in­fra­struc­ture’s there, the ma­jor tourist spots are all ac­tive and Kath­mandu re­mains with it’s beau­ti­ful his­tory and charm,” Ne­bauer told travel-bulletin.

While the 7.8 mag­ni­tude earth­quake was dev­as­tat­ing - killing 8,969 peo­ple and dam­ag­ing or de­stroy­ing over 887,000 homes - only five of Nepal’s 75 dis­tricts were strongly af­fected.

A re­port com­mis­sioned by the Gov­ern­ment of Nepal con­firmed on 07 Au­gust that there was “min­i­mal dam­age” to the ma­jor­ity of ac­com­mo­da­tion and trails in the Ever­est re­gion, in Nepal’s north­east.

Futher­more, a gov­ern­ment en­gi­neer­ing re­port in Novem­ber last year iden­ti­fied “very lit­tle dam­age to the area in north-cen­tral Nepal, with the 3% of build­ings dam­aged in the quake all eas­ily re­pairable”.

Out­ly­ing vil­lages bore the brunt of the dis­as­ter and de­spite the scale of the event, ho­tels went largely un­touched.

In or­der to re­open Nepal to tourism fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake, a lot of road­works were done, along with some re­pairs to some key his­tor­i­cal sights.

In July, only three out of 35 trekking routes re­mained af­fected, but Ne­bauer says that has since shrunk to one.

In 2014, tourism in Nepal was a US$348M in­dus­try and gen­er­ated 487,500 jobs (3.5% of to­tal em­ploy­ment).

As a county whose in­come is largely driven by tourism, the econ­omy is suf­fer­ing with­out a healthy in­come from tourists.

Those who do re­turn have the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover a “hid­den gem”, Ne­bauer says.

“It has ev­ery­thing, from the back­drop of the Hi­malayas, down to the jun­gle-clad flats where one of the world’s best na­tional parks is - Chit­wan Na­tional Park - the cities are full of his­tory, dat­ing back thou­sands of years, it’s just got a lot go­ing for it.

“There is a real wel­come wait­ing for [tourists], some in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences and some great sight­see­ing,” Ne­bauer says.

Nepal is up and run­ning again and is ea­ger for tourists to re­turn. Jas­mine O’donoghue re­ports. The in­fra­struc­ture’s there, the ma­jor tourist spots are all ac­tive and Kath­mandu re­mains with it’s beau­ti­ful his­tory and charm’

Emma Lovell

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