It has been over four years since Nepal went through the devastating and disastrous earthquake on April 2015, and Nepal is still crawling its way out from the aftermath and perhaps for many years to come, the dark cloud will hover around. Probably, it is one of the greatest catastrophes of the decade, when horrors swayed Nepal with no hope.
Still draped with the bane of an earthquake, Nepal is finding the relief through the boon of tourism. Bestowed with the undeniable and obvious natural beauty, rich traditions and culture and historical architectural feats, tourism is prominent in Nepal. To resurrect Nepal from ashes of earthquake 2015, Tourism has been the constant endeavor from authorities.
With Sustainable tourism already prevailing around the world, Nepal is also playing the same toss to bolster the tourism, while aiding for the cause.
Tourism During Earthquake 2015
Tourism acts as a major pillar of the economy of Nepal. As per the report of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Tourism contributed 8.9% to Nepal’s GDP in 2014, while providing 1.1 million jobs. Before the earthquake lashed Nepal, Nepal was the 26th fast-growing tourism economy out of 188 countries.
According to the tourism statistics of Nepalese Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry, about 23,000 tourists would have been in Nepal during April 25, 2015. However, there is no exact figure showing how many tourists were there amongst those who lost their lives in the earthquake.
Along with 581 cultural heritages costing 5 billion, major trekking zones like Sagarmatha, Manaslu, and Langtang was impaired by the earthquake.
Located on the Alpine belt (Apline-Himalayan), Nepal is one of the world’s 20 most disaster-prone countries, with high vulnerability from various natural disasters like earthquake, floods, and landslides. More to that, the rural settlement is more prone to these disasters than the urban ones.
Despite this astute fact, tourists visiting Nepal are not fully aware of the associated risk while traveling to Nepal. Well, it is definitely the fever of adventure that draws tourists from around the world. And, that’s why Tourism is critical on rebuilding Nepal and its economy.
Minimize the Impacts of Disaster in Destinations
-Use of Digital Platform
One way or the other, every one of us is involved in the Digital Platform. Extracting the information from social media to access public interest and opinion can be a powerful tool to promote the destination in a positive light.
-Managing the Media
Taking media as a co-partner to bolster tourism is one best way to achieve the desired goal. Working with the media to encourage them to be specific about the location of ruined sites to isolate the area for no disturbance on construction and to cover stories about positive outcomes instead of continual reports on tragedy, loss, and lagging-pace.
-Promote the stories
Although the Earthquake 2015 did thrash Nepal, it left many heart-touching stories behind that still makes our heart quiver. Promoting these stories can create awareness to travelers of that destination, and make them realize how their solo effort can be of a bigger cause.
-Do not get all business-minded
Do not make the announcement of “We are opening soon” or “Open for Business” when the area is not fully recovered. Marketing destination before its full recovery can create catastrophe and even worse, distrust.
-Public Education and Awareness
In the present, local tourism has become a major trend and even taken as the future of tourism in Nepal. As tourism has vested interest of many parties, public education and outreach can create effective communication between the concerned parties. Each group can require a differently structured plan and information to make them reflect upon their actions and its consequences.
Earthquake 2015 has inflicted profound impact on wider economy and livelihood of especially hilly and mountain region, thus taking the community on the resurrection of Nepal aids for a long term plan and future disasters (if any occurred).
-Visit Nepal 2020
Visit Nepal 2020 is quoted to be over-ambitious or far-fetched; but no matter the criticism and if executed properly, the campaign is going to be a great aid to the despair of earthquake 2015.
As Sustainable Tourism with a focus on cultural aspects is the aim of Visit Nepal 2020 to revive the loss of earthquake 2015, the physical loss on the destination can be expected to be at ease after the campaign.
Disaster Preparedness in Tourism Plan
United Nation estimates that around eight million people have been affected in total; most of them left homeless after the whole village was swapped by the earthquake. However, due to the limited availability of helicopters, the rescue operation was greatly hampered, especially in high trekking zones like Langtang and Manaslu.
It is due to the horrors of Earthquake 2015; tourism sectors are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts of natural disasters on the destinations. Various organizations, national and international, private and governmental are engaged to promote and develop tools to increase disaster preparedness and management of the sector.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council's destination standards, the best practice guide for tourism management developed by APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), are some examples. However, not many destinations have implemented these tools.
It is probably because tourists are not typically counted as vulnerable groups in national disaster plans. Like Nepal’s 2008 National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management has no mention of tourism at all.
Tourism of Nepal is Bouncing Back…
The infrastructure of tourism was left in devastation affecting mountaineering, trekking, tour business, cultural heritage sites, shrines, pagodas, temples and archeological sites (some over a hundred years). The earthquake affected over 14 districts with significant physical damage to some of the prominent destinations like Chitwan and Pokhara in terms of a sharp fall in the number of tourists.
Trekking, the major attraction of tourism in Nepal has recovered faster than expected. Although avalanche occurred in some major trekking destinations like the Everest region and Langtang region, killing several people and damaging villages, the trekking sites has regained its popularity.
Along with the trails and routes of trekking destination, the devastated settlement has been restored too. With the joint effort of government and the local tourism community, the rebuilt trails and accommodation has been possible this sooner.
Kathmandu Valley alone has seven groups of monuments from the UNESCO heritage list showcasing the full extent of Nepal’s rich and unique history and culture. Along with seven magnificent feats, a total of 753 monuments were damaged throughout the entire country. As per the latest figures from the Department of Archaeology, 204 projects have been completed.
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