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.