Will Nepali tourism bounce back?

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

The tower. Photo: bbc.com

The earthquake that hit the nation on 25th April has shaken the entire infrastructures of the country. The deadly earthquake did not spare tourism sector which was already in the poor state. The quake has damaged several popular trekking routes as mud slide and cracks in the treks have made trekking impossible at least for some time. The country has also lost many iconic World Heritages which have been now reduced to debris.

We understand the magnitude of loss and damage that tourism sector has faced, however it is good to see that Nepali tourism entrepreneurs look quite optimistic about the resurrection of the tourism industry in near future. It is a known fact that tourism industry plays a pivotal role in Nepali economy. Only last year travel and tourism sector had generated 3.5 percent of the total employment in the country. The tourism sector

Monuments in ruins. Photo:dailysun.com

contributed 4.3 percent to the GDP in 2014. Due to improved conditions of tourism, it was anticipated that Nepali economy would rise 5.4 percent in 2015.

Rural tourism has been creating jobs and providing opportunities to rural earnings. Due to several trekking routes and home stay facilities in many villages, tourists flow has increased over the years. Since tourists walk deep inside the villages and stay with the villagers, the revenue generated will directly go into villagers’ pockets. The present earthquake has definitely blocked this source of income for the rural people of Nepal.

There is no time to lick the wounds rather private sectors and the government must work together to bring tourism industry back on track. It is easier said than done but still a genuine effort is the need of the hour. It is

Pace of reconstruction is awfully slow. Photo: globalpossibilities.org

understood that the present situation of the country will not allow inviting any tourists to the country, but a master plan has to be made to revive tourism industry back to normalcy. It will definitely take time to revive shattered tourism industry of the country, but it is still achievable. If necessary the government should hire disaster management experts. Their assistance will undoubtedly bring a difference.

Trekking and mountaineering are the main activities which foreign tourists prefer in Nepal. The government of Nepal and Nepal Tourism Board must act timely and make sure all trekking and hiking trails are in proper condition. The recent earthquake has damaged several popular trails like Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang and Rolwaling. Landslide and deep cracks have left many trails impossible to walk along them. If these trails are not repaired in time it will directly leave a negative message among the trekking lovers. Hence, it is utmost necessary that a team of experts must assess the damage. After then immediate action is required to make all trekking and hiking routes ready for the trekking.

Reconstruction and rehabilitation are main issues. Photo: ketekete.com

Unfortunately at the moment nothing is going in favour of Nepali tourism. A series of mishaps has hit Nepali tourism hard. Last year on April 18, an avalanche on Everest had killed 16 guides. The recent earthquake did also take the lives of 19 climbers. Beginning with Nepal Banda then avalanche and now earthquake, all these incidents have discouraged foreign tourists. Many big and small hotels in Pokhara and Kathmandu have almost no guests and Lakeside and Thamel wear a deserted look.

Many tourists from Southeast Asia visit Nepal to observe religious sites. Unless these religious sites are restored we cannot expect those tourists visiting the country. It is therefore very necessary that government must swing in action to restore all religious structure at the earliest possible.

The earthquake has brought down a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to dust. Numerous historic buildings and archaeological locations like Kathmandu Durbar, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, shrines of Swayambhu, Changu Narayan and Baudha have been damaged by April 25 earthquake. These are the places of tourist’s interest. Nepal will definitely lose a sizeable number of tourists who visit Nepal to observe these monuments.

So, first priority, along with quake victims, all religious monuments must be restored as soon as possible. This will attract foreign tourists and gradually the tourism sector will move forward. If tourists start flowing in the country, it will also leave a positive message in the world community about Nepal. Let’s not forget that tourism industry is the backbone of Nepali economy. This sector cannot be ignored or overlooked.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on www.amazon.com

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