Traffic jams at major thoroughfares of Kathmandu valley are back again. Street vendors clog the already narrow alleyways and pathways with their wares of China imported merchandise. Worshipers make their rounds of neighborhood temples and stupas carrying out their morning and evening rituals. Commuters jostle to get in to an already packed city bus to go to work. Loads of yellow colored school buses maneuver past maze-like streets of Kathmandu to bring the kids to school on time. Masons and carpenters are seen busy erecting intricate brick and wood work structures of the fallen temples and old monuments at the world heritage sites dotting the valley. This is post April 25th Earthquake Nepal. The Nepal which every foreign media reported as having fallen and with mayhem everywhere. Sure enough there was destruction in few cities and villages but not at the scale at which it was reported. Their cameras didn’t pan where the buildings were still intact. They reported from the surface and completely failed to reach the core story of Nepali people’s resilient nature. Nepalis know how to smile and carry on with their lives even in the most difficult situations. Now the world must know how Nepalis have picked up the pieces and bounced back from the unknown portrayed by the world.
Present day Nepal resonate life and continuation. Unlike what was splashed on prime time television news around the world, death and destruction. Concerned by the spiraling negative image of the country’s tourism sector, a group of forward looking tourism entrepreneurs formed an informal online group to strategize ways to rebuild Nepal’s tourism image and mitigate the damning reports on the 7.3 magnitude earthquake. In less than four weeks, this group attracted nearly 6000(Six thousand) active members and formulated a lot of plans at reducing the scars left by the world media. Even members of the tourism board and other tourism bodies joined the group. This is a positive development as this level of cooperation was rare in the past. The group systematically carried out their plans and a lot of good has started to emerge.
For a start, countries such as USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Italy & Germany downgraded their travel advisories. This was a major stumbling block for the travel industry. Source country travel companies could not book holidays to Nepal for their customers against the backdrop of the travel bans imposed by their governments. This was a major victory in the process to revive tourism in Nepal. Next good news came in the form a trail safety report by Miyamoto International for the Annapurna region. The Miyamoto report gave a green signal for the entire Annapurna region – second most visited region after Everest in Nepal. Other positive news of global travel companies confirming their bookings for the immediate autumn season followed.
The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is busy organizing several activities such as travel bloggers meet, and music and sports festivals. These activities are coordinated either by the private sector and endorsed by the NTB or spearheaded by the Board in consultation with the private sector. There is a great sense of unity among the public and private sectors to entice visitors back into the country.
Nepal’s government has now set an ambitious target to attract 1.1 million tourists for the year 2016. Nepal’s record was 800 thousand tourist arrivals in the year 2012. In Nepal’s recent budget funds have been allocated to upgrade major infrastructure such as the International airport in Kathmandu and regional airports to increase their capacities. The Kathmandu valley heritage sites that were damaged are undergoing repairs and are well under schedule to reopen for tourists. A long delayed constitution has also been released in its draft form for public consultations. The final constitution will be promulgated by end August, 2015. Nepal is rebuilding and rising from the rubbles. This transformation is rather swift and it can only be attributed to the resilient nature of the Nepali people. They are not waiting for the world to come and build their homes and schools although a lot of help has been pledged by the world communities.
Would you rather give more aid and make Nepal forever dependent on handouts or would you prefer to give them jobs so that they can build their country the way they see fit? The tourism industry of Nepal prefers the latter. They are requesting you to go visit Nepal and experience their amazing stories now – stories of resilience and beauty.