Nepal Tourism Is Back On

Despite concerns about safety and infrastructure following the earthquakes earlier this year, Nepal has gotten the all-clear for tourism, including on Mt. Everest.

Nepal-Kathmandu-Valley-cr-getty

Following devastating earthquakes this spring, Nepal has officially been cleared to welcome tourists again, just in time for peak hiking season. Miyamoto, a structural engineering firm, oversaw a survey of Nepal’s infrastructure that was paid for by the British government. They determined that the country—as well as Annapurna, Mt. Everest, and other places favored by international tourists—is safe to visit. While the Nepalese government, which counts on tourism money to help boost its economy, is happy about the news, not everyone feels the same way.

“Travel insurance is the major problem for us right now,” Shiva Dhakal, the owner of the Royal Mountain Travel tour company, told The Guardian. “Travelers from the U.K. are scared.” The survey’s methods also drew concern, as it was pulled together in a short amount of time, leading some critics to argue that it wasn’t entirely thorough.

But not everyone is put off. Tauck, a U.S.-based tour operator, has announced that its previously scheduled Nepal visits this fall will go on as scheduled. The 17-day itinerary is primarily across India but includes three days in Kathmandu. Tauck corporate communications manager Tom Armstrong told Condé Nast Traveler that he felt confident sending travelers back to Nepal after his own partners there had okayed the venues they would be visiting, including the famed Dwarika’s Hotel.”We’ve been in consultation with all of our partners in Nepal since the earthquake,” he said. “We sent one of our employees, who has been to Nepal many times, in [early] July to go visit all the places our guests visit on our tour. He inspected them and found that, much to his surprise, it was better than anticipated. Based on the media coverage, there were a lot of areas that were better than he expected them to be.”

Nepal Reopens Earthquake-Damaged UNESCO Sites

The Tauck itinerary in Kathmandu includes a flight seeing trip through the Himalayas, a Q&A with a Sherpa, and a visit to the historic village of Bhaktapur. It doesn’t involve any mountain climbing, one of Nepal’s riskiest outings. The only change to the itinerary, Armstrong reports, was a planned visit to Durbar Square, one of the UNESCO sites in Kathmandu that was seriously damaged during the quakes. It has been replaced with a visit to a similar monument in less-precarious condition. “It’s definitely not intended to be an adventure itinerary,” Armstrong added. “The Nepal component is much more about history and culture. Typically, this [tour] appeals to a seasoned traveler who is culturally curious, who has traveled extensively.” He believes that people who want to help Nepal’s recovery efforts should do so by going there and spending money, as tourism is such a key part of the country’s economy.

A second Miyamoto report, this one funded by the World Bank, is due this week. It’s also expected to say that Nepal is ready to welcome back tourists.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

Source: www.cntraveler.com

Nepal strives to get tourism back on track

with tourism in Nepal having taken a body blow in the wake of the devastating earthquake in April, the country is making efforts to revive the footfalls for the “high season” starting late September through promotions and ease of travel advisories by foreign countries.

Kathmandu-durbar-square

A Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) official said that there has been only a trickle of tourists from India in May and June – the months that see large numbers visiting the Himalayan nation due to school vacations in India. About a fourth of foreign tourists in Nepal come from India.

“We have lost the regular Indian season for May and June. However, we look forward to welcoming Indian tourists during the Dussehra holidays (in October),” NTB senior manager Ujjwala Dali said.

She said a “plan for tourism recovery” has been prepared by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the NTB would start promotional activities to get arrivals from countries such as Britain, the US, Japan and Australia, apart from the European Union, for the high season.

“We hope to get Nepal back on the tourism map when the tourism high season begins,” Dali said.

She said that trekking tracks are opened in September and October and weather conditions are also considered pleasant by the visitors through September-November and February-April.

“In December and January there are holidays in many parts of the world and tourists come here,” she said.

Tourism is Nepal’s second-highest foreign exchange earner and is estimated to contribute about 12 percent to the country’s GDP through direct and indirect employment.

People associated with Nepal’s tourism industry said that some key heritage sites and trekking routes had been damaged in the powerful earthquake on April 25 but there still was a lot for tourists to see and savour across the country.

“Some of the media reports about damage to infrastructure were exaggerated. The epicentre of earthquake was not Kathmandu. If you go across the city, you will see that most of the new buildings do not appear to have suffered real damage. Nepal is back and we are on our feet,” Amir K. Pradhananga, resident manager at Grand Hotel here, said.

“Life is normal (now),” he added.

Over 8,500 people were killed in Nepal due to the powerful earthquake in April and another strong quake in May. As for the repeated aftershocks, Pradhananga said the locals were taking these in their stride and there was no panic.

NTB Administrative Officer Ramesh Kumar Adhikari said the projections were that Nepal will get 40 percent fewer tourists this year and 20 percent in 2016.

“We want that the numbers of visitors to be as close to last year as is possible and we are taking several measures in that direction, including promotions,” Adhikari said.

Officials said about 60 percent of those who visit Nepal come for sight-seeing and cultural tourism while about 40 percent come for adventure-related activities. The pattern was unlikely to change after the earthquake.

Dali said that Nepal was urging foreign countries to ease their travel advisories issued after the April earthquake. She said Nepalese missions abroad were also issuing updated information.

“We will also focus more on the travel trade fairs in the coming months. There are already familiarisation visits by the media and tour operators,” she said.

She said that there were many places for tourists to visit Nepal including the “golden triangle of Pokhara, Chitwan and Kathmandu“.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

Source: thestatesman.com

Nepal ready to welcome tourists, says envoy

Ambassador of Nepal in India, Deep Kumar Upadhyaya today said that Nepal was completely safe and ready to welcome tourists. The Himalayan kingdom is looking forward to having visitors from India.

2015_7$largeimg02_Jul_2015_231730810

Upadhyaya was speaking at a seminar “Nepal: Tourist Destination” organized here today by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with the Embassy of Nepal, here today.

“Open border between the two countries has ensured an uninterrupted flow of people and in 2013 a total of 1.80 lakh Indians visited Nepal,” he said. Upadhyaya said Indian visitors constituted 23 per cent of the total tourists visiting Nepal. “All Himalayan states, including India and Nepal, must jointly promote spiritual tourism as there is vast potential and joint marketing will help all the countries reap the benefits and beckon international tourists,” he said.

Vice-chairman of the state tourism development board suggested that all Himalayan states in India must join hands to form National Regional Hill Development Authority of which Nepal and Bhutan can also be members.

This would not only help strengthen relations between the neighboring countries but also help in reconstruction of severely damaged Kathmandu through tourism, power besides many other areas of mutual cooperation.

Mani Raj Lamichhane, Head of Department of Tourism Products and Resources Development, Nepal Tourism Board, gave a detailed presentation, highlighting tourism opportunities in Nepal and prospects and benefits of developing mutla packages for visitors from both countries.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

Source: www.tribuneindia.com

An opportunity for all: Nepal is open to visitors

To create a unique and award winning experience for tourists

Kathmandu-durbar-square1

Restoring damaged UNESCO heritage structures is estimated to cost $18 million. While restoring the combined 743 damaged monuments can cost $117m. The restoring and rebuilding of all these cultural sites will take years. However, tourists can be offered new experiences to attract them to the cultural heritage sites.

With loss of our heritage assets, the challenge is how to keep tourists in Kathmandu for longer. Exhibitions or murals in front of heritage sites showing before and after images could help attract more tourists to the heritage sites.

Unesco-heritage-sites

An augmented reality application could also allow smart phone users to see pictures of what the square would have looked liked before the earthquake when the camera is at a certain space or area. There could also be narration by famous actors, information and interactive tools to create a world class and award winning multi-media experience that is promoted in Nepal and abroad. The disaster could be a new beginning.

Training

During the off season to deliver better services

Unesco-heritage-sites1

Comprehensive retraining of staff laid off and unemployed at this time (porters, waiters, hoteliers, managers, etc.) could be the ideal next step for the tourism sector to bounce back. In many ways it could be the perfect time. After good management training programs, staff and laid off employees will be ready to provide better services when the tourist season starts again after the monsoon.

Training programs will have to focus on helping entrepreneurs and employees provide newer services/products and identifying newer markets. Programs could focus on management, marketing, hygiene, customer care, etc. They could be delivered directly to affected workers as part of a revival package.

Ninety percent of the tour guides are unemployed, they have no work, they are jobless. There is insecurity among the tour guides [about] what to do. I have [asked] my colleagues, just wait for one year.

Hare Ram Baral, head of the Tourist Guide Association of Nepal

Safe Trekking Systems

To inspire confidence

safe-trekking-system

Design idea for a Himalayan mountain hut/Safe Trekking System courtesy of HMMD architecture competition initiated by Samarth-NMDP.

 As Nepal seeks assurances from international geologists and consultants on its popular trekking routes, especially the Everest and Annapurna regions that attract around 70 per cent of trekkers, the PDNA suggests creating a Safe Trekking System with standards and regulations for the quality of the product and how to manage it. Classifying trails will go a long way in enabling visitors and the industry to assess the risks associated with certain treks and areas based on altitude, length, facilities, location etc.

A Safe Trekking System requires a product that allows good communication along the trail, a monitoring system that tracks the location of visitors & staff during the trek, a responsive rescue system, appropriate shelter along the way, enterprises that offer good basic services and quality infrastructure including bridges and drinking water provisions. The Safe Trekking System also requires an effective management system that looks after classification, promotion, maintenance & investment and staff skills. During the slow monsoon season, the Samarth-NMDP programme is taking the lead towards the establishment of the Sate Trekking System with funds from UK AID/DFID.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

Source: Nepalitimes

Tourism fraternity welcomes plan to organize Visit Nepal Year

Tourism entrepreneurs have welcomed the idea to celebrate Visit Nepal Year (VNY) campaign in 2017 or 2018, assuming that reconstruction and rebuilding works will be completed by then.

It its Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, National Planning Commission (NPC) has suggested organizing VNY campaign in 2017 and 2018 to rebuild and rebrand Nepal’s tourism image.

Tourism entrepreneurs say the campaign would be effective in promoting Nepali tourism brand in international arena and help bring more tourists. They, however, are for implementing the campaign under public private partnership (PPP) model, saying that the government alone cannot re-brand and promote Nepal in the international market.

Kathmandu-durbar-square

PDNA report states that significant efforts and resources as well as proper coordination among key stakeholders would be necessary to ensure that foreign tourists perceive Nepal as a safe destination so that the campaign can be successful.

Bijay Amatya, CEO of Kora Tours, said extensive preparations should be done so that VNY can actually help to bring not just the regular but additional tourists. “We need to focus on promoting new destinations like Dolpa, Rara, Jumla and Ilam, and organizing more international events like Indra Matta, Mani Rimdu and Everest Marathon, among others,” said Amatya.

The report estimates the decline in revenue from entry fees at cultural monuments in Kathmandu Valley will be worth Rs 600 million (US$ 6 million) over the next 12 months. However, tourism entrepreneurs say the loss can be recovered by promoting tourism as a new tourism product as people from all over the world might be interested to come and see how survivors recover and how Nepal rebuilds its cultural heritages and monuments.

“As foreigners have always praised Nepali hospitality, they might love to come and see how Nepalis come out of rubbles and focus on reconstruction,” Raj Gyawali, a tourism entrepreneur, said. “We should focus on people and recovery. The contrast of vibrant modern society with traditional values and heritage should be promoted as foreigners love and value it as they do not have it in their country.”

Among others, tourism entrepreneurs suggest to the government to promote new destinations, provide special packages for tourists, and marketing creatively with new approach for tourism recovery.

Ramesh Kumar Adhikari, chief administrator of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said celebrating 2017 or 2018 as VNY could help a lot in tourism recovery. “We can make VNY a grand success if we work in proper coordination and make necessary preparations,” he said. He also added that NTB was planning to organize an international expo in Nepal as per the Pokhara Declaration 2015.

Tourism entrepreneurs, however, say the country should be able spread positive message throughout the world and make people feel that Nepal is safe to visit before making any announcement regarding VNY.

Andrew Jones, vice chairman of PATA, said Nepal needs to tell the world that the situation here is not that worse as seen in international media. “Before arriving Nepal, I was expecting to see whole lot of devastation as shown in different media. But when I arrived here, I was surprised to see that most of the areas in Nepal are still intact and are untouched by the quake,” Jones told Republica in a recent interview. He also suggested the government and tourism entrepreneurs to promote attractions, facilities and areas of heritage and culture, and natural beauty, that have not been affected by the earthquake.

Ramesh Prasad Dhamala, president of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), said that government should focus on reducing aviation turbine fuel, landing and parking charges at Tribhuwan International Airport so that the air fare will be reduced automatically which will definitely help bring in more tourists. “The national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation should be strengthened, so that it can fly to different destinations in the world offering cheap fares. This will help us attract more tourists,” he added.

The recovery strategy for tourism in PDNA has four distinct phases — identifying and assessing unaffected and safe tourist destinations, creating a ‘safe trekking system’ for mountain tourism in Nepal, rebuilding and redeveloping damaged areas, and identifying and developing new tourist products and services.

If these things can be focused sequentially, Nepal will be ready to host more tourists very soon.

“Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 campaign helped us to bring 300,000 additional tourists. If campaigns like VNY can be launched with a strong message, it is not difficult to bring more tourists here,” Yogendra Shakya, national coordinator of NTY, said.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

Source: Republica

All heritage sites in Valley to reopen today

Patan-Durbar-Square

People walk in Patan Durbar Square as pigeons fly, in Lalitpur, on Friday. The heritage site reopened for visitors on Thursday. Photo: Bal Krishna Thapa/ THT

The Department of Archaeology has informed that all heritage sites of the Kathmandu Valley will formally reopen for the general public from Monday.

Tourists and general public were prohibited from entering the heritage sites after the structures of Seven Protected Monument Zones of Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Property were fully or partially damaged in the April quake.

The seven protected monuments zones include the durbar squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, Buddhist stupas of Swoyambhu and Boudhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changunarayan.

Pashupatinath

Durbar squares of Patan and Hanumandhoka were reopened for the general public on June 11 after the completion of debris management. The debris of other heritage sites is being managed to formally reopen them for the general public on Monday.

Earlier, the government had decided to reopen all the heritage sites on August 17 but the DoA, the Department of Tourism and Nepal Tourism Board collectively rescheduled the reopening of the remaining heritages sites from Monday to spread positive message to foreign tourists willing to visit the heritage sites of Nepal.

Suresh Suras Shrestha, Under Secretary at the DoA, said tourists will be given guided tours at the heritage sites for their safety. Tourists are forbidden to cross the security lines. Signboards placed in the heritage zones will guide the tourist to take a proper walking route to observe the structures.

Patan-Durbar-Square1

“Tourists are prohibited from roaming around the heritage sites in person. A group of tourists should be formed along with local guides to provide them information about the ruined structures and survived monuments,” he said. Tourists going for a tour to severely damaged Changunaryan of northern Bhaktapur and Swoymbhunath will be strictly managed. The tourists and visitors will be allowed to visit only the safe premises.

unesco-heritage-reopen

According Shrestha, severely damaged Changunaryan is still not that safe for tourists and public visit though. Most of the structures around it are on the verge of collapse amid constant aftershocks.
The Department of Archaeology   has requested the Department of Tourism and Nepal Tourism Board to make arrangement of security personnel on the premises of the heritages sites to prevent any untoward activities and ensure the security of the visitors.

Follow and share our more detail from our social media ; Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.

patan-photo-exhibition