Nepal was rattled by a devastating earthquake on April 25,2015 and the country’s entire image was shaken. A country renowned for its hospitality and majestic peaks and himalayas was now pictured as a country full of sufferings and horrific scenes of rubbles. We were very fortunate to be aided from entire the world but throughout the entire thing, the tourism industry of Nepal was overlooked and it dried up instantly.
Tourism industry is the backbone of Nepal and contributes to around 70 % of nation’s economy. Tourism is the only key to boost Nepal’s shattered economy and help us revive. Tourism industry was hard hit by the earthquake and the tourists inflow in Nepal dropped down to 80% after the quake. The areas which were left untouched by the earthquake also witnessed no visitors. An industry that pumps $787.5 million into the country’s economy every year and represents 4.3 percent of its gross domestic product evaporated overnight and, six months later, is struggling to build back momentum.
The reason behind such a drastic downfall was the dissemination of wrong message across the globe. Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) are hopeful to bring about some positive change in the tourism sector in Nepal with Adventure Week Rebound Nepal on the great himalayan trails. This program recently brought 18 international media and tour operators to Nepal to experience the country first-hand and help spread the message that Nepal is open and ready for business.
Tour operators are looking forward to a positive response after putting a positive media spotlight on Nepal. Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Journeys International has raised $100,000 in donations and is even offering a rebuilding trip but the interest in traveling to Nepal is very less. People are calling us to know about in what ways they can aid Nepal but only few are actually ready to go there and help. It’s astonishing that people are not realizing the fact that they only way to aid Nepal is by being there.
Simply traveling to this earthquake rattled country is a great way of helping them. Take a great trip and it will help the country. Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Journeys International has raised $100,000 in donations and is offering a rebuilding trip, but said interest in traveling to Nepal is anemic. It is also providing several rebuilding trips to Nepal giving travelers a choice to combine trekking or biking with service works.
Pam Perry, the company’s director of operations, said that the rebuilding trips are floating their first and second quarter Nepal business at present. He is hopeful about the change in perception of people about traveling to Nepal after seeing positive images from Adventure Week.
Tourist business in Nepal has been severely affected by earthquake. Especially people in the mountain region, who completely rely on tourism for their livelihood are facing the biggest impact. Nepal is appealing tourists to return considering the fact that tourism plays a vital role in long term support for the nation’s economy. Tourism in Nepal directly supports 487,500 jobs (3.5 percent of employment). Add in the ripple effect, and this number leaps to 1 million jobs and 7.5 percent of total employment.
Jwalant Gurung, the owner of Crystal Mountain Treks and also someone who works with Great Asian Journeys, said that ,” Come back. It is absolutely the right time to come. People have been contributing financially to rebuild a better Nepal but its high time that they should realize that a better Nepal can only be build if they come here and see for themselves the real scenario. Come to Nepal and tell your own stories rather than blindly believing on what has been said”.
The outdoor industry’s support will continue to be of great essence in the months to come.
“Outdoor companies can support trips there and encourage customers to go there,” said Amy Roberts, OIA’s executive director. “Tourism is a huge part of their economy, and we need to ensure that they continue to have those dollars come in.”
Roberts suggests that sponsored athlete trips to Nepal will also aid in reflecting positive images to potential travelers.
ATTA will continue to look for ways in which Nepal can be supported. “We will be looking for creative partnerships at Winter OR in regard to Nepal and promotion of Nepal”, said Shannon Stowell, the president of ATTA. He even paid a visit to Nepal after the earthquake. He wants companies to look for ways to portray a different picture of Nepal. He suggests going for catalog photo shoots. He adds that nothing can beat the cultural and scenic richness of Nepal.