30th September , 2015
Buying essential stuff from a shop in Thamel in Kathmandu, Tracy Austin, a young traveller from Australia, was readying to go for adventure climbing when dna caught up with her. “I learnt on the Internet that Nepal has put things back in shape and conducting adventures treks and climbing. I thought to give it a try and things are looking pretty great here. I am on for a Island Peak climbing, Lobuche East and Pokalde with my two friends in a couple of days,” she said.
The exuberance of Tracy and many other trekkers like her that have started arriving in Kathmandu are a clear indication back that after being hit by a devastating earthquake on April 25, a resilient Nepal is steadily and firmly trudging back to normalcy. “After hitting a massive dip in tourist inflow after the earthquake, we have touched 60% of tourist arrivals in August this year when compared to August 2014. And hope to bring the figure to 100% or more in 2016,” director general of department of tourism, G B Karkee told dna.
Many Nepalese tour operators give credit to Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), a no-profit organisation, for the quick revival of tourism in Nepal. Soon after the earthquake PATA assessed the situation in Nepal and made Tourism Rapid Recovery Taskforce- Report and Recommendations to Nepal government in on 21 June, 2015.
“The report revolved around source market campaigns, organising international events, upgrading the level of services. It seems it has started paying dividends,” said Suman Pandey, chairman of PATA – Nepal chapter who also heads a travel and adventure firm.
One of such events was the India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival organized jointly by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India in association with South Asia Foundation from September 23-28, 2015 in Kathmandu. This event was an exhibition-cum-sale of craft products by artisans from India and Nepal where brand “Khadi Nepal” was launched by India ambassador, Ranjit Rae.
India tourists who contribute nearly 25% to Nepal’s tourist traffic especially in pilgrim circuit of Pashupatinath, Bhaktapur and temples in Janakpur etc. is also showing signs of revival but their inflow is still to be matched with Western and Chinese tourists. “The Indians tourists were picking up. But because of the current standoff the numbers have again reduced to a trickle. We hope it ends soon,” said Krishna Chhetri, a travel agent dealing in pilgrimage circuit.
Several travel and tourism firms and shops selling adventure equipment and essentials have also started feeling the crunch. “The blockade at the India-Nepal border has impacting our business. There is a sudden dip in tourist inflow,” said Narendra Tamang who deals in adventure essentials.
According to Nepalese government officials, fuel stocks in Nepal have gone low with 9 days of petrol and 15 days of diesel left. The government has ordered maximum 3 litre supply to two wheelers per week, 10 litre to four wheelers per week and 40 litres of diesel supply to buses per week. “Fuel shortage will obstruct Nepal’s tourism recovery process that was built up with a lot of effort. We earnestly request the two governments to resolve the blockade and pave way for Nepal’s recovery,” said Pandey.