Tourism After Earthquake In Nepal
The country receives about 800,000 tourists a year, attracted by the culture and nature
The earthquake in Nepal that has caused nearly 3,700 deaths has endangered one of the main economic engines of this country with 28 million inhabitants: tourism. The priority now is to help those affected and assess the state have been key infrastructure such as roads.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourist arrivals to Nepal and foreign tourism revenue came registering constant growth during the last five years.
Thus, in 2013 the country received almost 800,000 travelers, who stopped in Nepal near $ 436 million .Compared to four years ago, these figures represent increases of 32% and 27% respectively.
Tourism has been key to boosting GDP growth, which registered a 5.4% increase last year.
In any case, the priority now is to help those affected, repatriate passengers and assess the damage.
For now, travel agencies across Europe have the outputs planned for this week canceled.
According to diplomatic sources, foreign tourism has been located at 340 Spaniards in Nepal after the earthquake, while continuing to seek other 116 that has not yet located. They are mostly tourists.
“It is too early to make an assessment because they know exactly how they have been roads and communications do not work well with Nepal after the earthquake,” said Susana Garcia, communications officer of the tour operator Cathay.
This wholesale agency, which has its own correspondent in Nepal, is now focused on the repatriation of customers who were there on vacation.
Tourism as the Second source of income for the country
Mar Furro, product manager for Nepal and sustainable tourism Tarannà travel agency also notes that it should be assessed in detail how the earthquake has affected the country circuits.
“Tourism is the second largest source of income for the country and as we see that the situation returns to normal, we will start again travel to Nepal, “explains Furro.
Travel Tarannà, which works with the Friends of Nepal in Barcelona, also recalls that “tourism, which employs guides, small hotels, people in the villages, etc., can be a great force to help the country to move forward”.
Badly Damaged Historical Heritage
In addition to critical infrastructure, the earthquake has damaged or completely destroyed numerous historical monuments, some of them declared World Heritage Site.
For example, the 7.8-magnitude quake toppled the Bhinsem Tower, Kathmandu, which was built in the nineteenth century.
One of the crumbling historic buildings in Kathmandu.
An ancient temple in the city of Bhaktapur, Nepal, in a photo of April 2014. In the old village, east of Kathmandu, many citizens live in tents in a school after the ancient buildings have collapsed or this large cracks.
However, and as pointed out the BBC in the area has returned to normal when the country is very likely to become damaged historic buildings to be reconstructed, as it did decades ago after another earthquake in 1934.
“The earthquake has damaged medieval cities, declared Patrimony of Humanity, which were built with adobe bricks. Is a fragile architecture, “explains Pere Mongay responsible for Nepal travel agency.
“When another earthquake caused damage in the same area 80 years ago , the reconstruction of these cities could be done because even then there were many craftsmen who knew the traditional methods of woodworking, stones, engravings … But now it will be more complicated, because many of these ancient crafts have disappeared in modern times, “says Mongay.
The Kathmandu Valley region houses seven monuments recognized as World Heritage that have been affected by the earthquake.
In any case, the travel agent who has been in Nepal several times pointed that after the earthquake, now the priority is to ensure the good condition of the roads , since they are vital for the country artery and to get help to the capital, Kathmandu.
In fact, in recent years a spate of projects to build roads and around the most popular trekking area in Nepal, Annapurna, had unleashed a battle involving residents, tourism entrepreneurs and promoters.
And the Annapurna region is one of the main attractions of Nepal, which travel every year between 40,000 and 50,000 hikers who enjoy the valleys, virgin forests and spectacular scenery.
For example, the village of Ghandruk before you could only get after a day of full-day trekking uphill through rhododendron forests, according to the BBC recounted. But recently a dusty road built up between the village and the town of Kimche has shortened the trip to hour and a half.
“Because we were unable to convince the locals about the importance of preserving the serenity of the region for trekking, and as we cannot deny their development aspirations, we are concentrating on enhancing new trekking routes”, for example in the Manaslu region, explained the association of tourist companies dedicated to this segment.
Those same roads that sparked the controversy can now be key to deliver aid quickly to remote villages.
Moreover, the earthquake caused an avalanche on the slopes of Everest, reaching the mountaineers base camp and killed at least 17 people.
In any case, it is clear that the country will need help to overcome the tragedy. ” Nepal is one of the success stories of World Tourism and the WTO (World Tourism Organization) will work with the country’s people and authorities to ensure that tourism remains a pillar of its socio-economic progress , “he pointed out, the secretary general of this organization, Taleb Rifai , who expressed his regret and transferred his condolences following the tragic earthquake.