Pokhara tourism entrepreneurs call to lift negative travel advisories

Pokhara tourism entrepreneurs call to lift negative travel advisories

Tourism entrepreneurs in the Lake City have asked foreign governments not to issue any negative travel advisory to discourage their citizen Nepal visit in the wake of devastating April 25 earthquake. They have asked Nepali diplomatic missions abroad to take initiatives for the end. Due to such negative advisory after the massive earthquake, they argued, flow of Chinese tourists has significantly decreased. After the devastating earthquake, the Chinese government had asked its citizens not to visit Nepal for safety concerns. However, six tourists including five journalists from Kunming Municipality of Yunnan Province of the northern neighbor visited Pokhara to know the reality.

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Tourists enjoying on the bank of Phewa Lake in Pokhara in an undated file photo. Photo: THT

At a programme organized by Pokhara Tourism Revival Committee (PTRC), tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara requested the visiting Chinese journalists to help promote positive views about Pokhara visit after the devastating earthquake. PTRC Vice-Coordinator Bishwo Palikhel informed that there is a good relation between Pokhara and Kunming city of China, so the media persons must help promote the visit of Pokhara for the enhancement of tourism sector rattled by the earthquake.

After the devastating earthquake, Chinese tourists had feared to visit Pokhara, but now if the Chinese journalists spread positivity, again there will be the flow of Chinese tourists, informed Palikhel. The journalists also promised for promotion of positive views to attract Chinese people toward Nepal. Entrepreneurs also emphasized for exchanging two countries journalists to enhance the tourism sector.

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Source: The Himalayan Times

Naturally Nepal needs tourists now more than ever, says Peter Athans

Naturally Nepal needs tourists now more than ever, says Peter Athans

In the wake of the devastating April 25 earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks, one of the world’s foremost high-altitude mountaineers Saturday appealed to foreign visitors to come to Nepal as the country was in need of tourists now more than ever to revive its vital tourism sector.

Peter Athens

Talking to this daily, Peter Athans, who summited Mt Everest seven times, noted that it was an opportunity for global tourism to help Nepal in time of need as the country was always very welcoming to visitors and travellers.

Peter, who is also embarking on a three-week trip to Mustang with his team to explore ancient cave dwellings as well as to summit a few mountains in the region, said there were numerous things to explore in Nepal beyond the world’s highest peak.

“Tourism sector in Nepalis really hurting now after the earthquakes and visiting tourists can only heal it,” he said, mentioning that it was also high time tourists gave back to the places they visited.

The motivational speaker is also highly concerned about ongoing recovery efforts. He says they should focus more on community-based approach. “From a high-altitude worker to a tea house owner along the hiking trail, recovery and rebuilding efforts must mean something to them,” he said, terming the country a tourist-friendly host with a big heart and an even bigger resilience.

Saying that the resilient communities were still struggling hard to rebuild their lives after the tragic disaster, the country’s tourism goodwill ambassador also requested world media to highlight the ongoing rebuilding process as well as the country’s flora and fauna that remains untouched by the earthquakes to their global audiences.

“It’s not the time to repeatedly draw global attention only to the rubble and debris as three months have already passed after the quake shook the nation,” he said, referring to the findings of recent assessment that substantiate the fact that the country is a safe destination for visitors with its famed nature and culture. According to him, the disaster has also brought all stakeholders together in efforts to build back a better country.

Peter arrived in Nepal for the first time in 1981. He said he has been visiting the Himalayan nation every year and has also led numerous expeditions to the mountains. Being a strong proponent of Sherpa culture, Peter has documented Sherpa talents at high altitude in books and films as his name has been synonymous with the exploration of Mt Everest. “Nepal has now become my first home and not the second one.”

Peter, who has also been awarded the American Alpine Club’s David J Sowles Award (with Todd Burleson) for unparalleled bravery and selflessness during the May 1996 Everest disaster, also launched Magic Yeti Library project to support children’s education.

The Bainbridge Island-based mountaineer is also associated with Himalayan Cataract Project that brings eye care to cataract patients in Nepal and has recently authored abook, Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with Pete Athans. The highaltitude film-maker has earned credits on films for NOVA, National Geographic Society and also the feature film, ‘Seven Years in Tibet’.

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Source: The Himalayan Times

Back on its feet, Nepal ready to receive tourists

Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake.

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Than three months since Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake which had taken a toll on its economy, the country is finally ready to receive tourists like before, said Deputy Consul General of the Nepal government Surendra Thapa in Kolkata on Friday. Speaking on the occasion of the Travel and Tourism fair being held in Kolkata, Thapa said Nepal, which used to receive 800,000 tourists annually, of which 150,000 were from India alone, has recovered from the devastating earthquake and urged Indians to make Kathmandu their next travel destination. Nepal’s economy, which was largely dependent on its tourism industry, had suffered a sharp decline of over 50 per cent after the earthquake. However, everything has gradually come back to normal, said an official of the Nepal Tourism Board. He pointed out that out of 75 Nepalese districts; only 11 surrounding Kathmandu were affected by the earthquake. But the tourist infrastructure such as roads, drinking water, healthcare, flights, airports and others are fully operational.

Urging Indian tourists to visit the neighboring country, the official said, “It is time to get over the psychological barrier and enjoy Nepal once again.” Further, he added that of the eight UNESCO-recognized tourism circuits recognized by the government, only three had been affected by the earthquake. The official also pointed out that more than 90 per cent hotels are back to business and telephones lines have also been restored. The tourism officials said a Japanese agency that came to assess the damage has identified that only 4 km of a total circuit of 210 km in about 36 trekking routes around Annapurna region was destroyed and the rest was safe for trekking. The popular Pokhara valley is also fully operational, they said.

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Source: www.indianexpress.com

Nepal Tourism Is Back On

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.

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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.

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Source: www.cntraveler.com

Annapurna Circuit, sanctuary trails safe: Study

The structural damage in two popular trekking trails in the Annapurna Region following the earthquake of April 25 and aftershocks thereafter is very minimal, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

The study carried out by Miyamoto International — a global engineering, construction management and project management company — only 3 percent i.e. 6 out of 250 accommodations along the trails have suffered minor repairable damages. “All 30 bridges on the trails are safe. Only around 250 meters track on the trails needs to be rerouted,” the report states.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The study was funded by SAMARTH-NMDP — a program supported by UKAID.

Kit Miyamoto, team leader of the assessment group, said Annapurna Region is open for business for autumn and that the region is completely safe. “However, there are some areas that have been identified as having a particularly high hazard level due to their existing features or geometry. For example, very high rock slopes and areas with evidence of historic large rock fall and slope instability,” said Miyamoto.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa said this independent assessment will help to clear negative message about Nepal in the international market. “Now we can tell the world that trekking in the region is completely safe,” he added.

The assessment team has suggested carrying out a detailed risk-assessment study of some areas including assessment of likelihood of failure, occupancy of specific areas of trail and villages, and combining these with hazard to assess the risk. “It is recommended that a detailed hazard and risk assessment is undertaken at Bagarchhap to better understand the slope stability and rapid deposition risk to villagers and tourists staying in the area. Until such time as this is complete, we recommend that the risk present at the village is considered intolerably high for overnight occupancy,” the report stated.

It has also recommended placing ‘Landslide Hazard No Stopping for 2 km’ signage on either side of the new regolith landslide north of Bhratang.

“We also recommend re-routing the section of track that is located at the scarp of the large rockslide between Kimrong and Chomrong or Jhinu Danda which is located within 2 meters from the edge of the failure. The track should be located at least 100 meters upslope from the edge of failure,” Miyamoto said, quoting the report. “The section of track that requires re-routing is approximately 250 meters long.”

The report has recommended abandoning the older section of trail south of Ghasa that leads to the old foot in favor of the road located further west that leads to the newer bridge due to landslide hazard.

“All the frequently used tracks should be checked for new failures and rock fall following monsoon rains each year,” the report states.

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Source: Myrepublica

Most villages on Everest trail unaffected by quake: Report

A report prepared on the basis of structural, geotechnical earthquake damage and trekking safety assessment has concluded that most of the villages on the Everest Base Camp trail do not appear to have been affected by landslide hazards. The assessment entitled ‘Damage Assessment of Everest Region’ was conducted between June 27 and July 2 by Miyamoto International, a global engineering, construction management and project management company with funding from the International Finance Corporation.

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“As there is no major damage, it is possible to begin trekking in the region. We have received the draft report and we have yet to get the final report,” said Tulsi Gautam, director general of the Department of Tourism, adding that the department will launch the report next week after getting full report.

According to the report, none of the nine suspension bridges assessed by Miyamoto engineers appear to have been affected by new geotechnical hazards. Much of the trail and most of the rock retaining walls, both above and below the trails, are undamaged as per the report. However, the engineers observed very little foundation damage to the buildings.

“As most of the trails and bridges are safe, we can resume trek from September after monsoon ends,” said Sagar Pandey, general secretary of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).

TAAN expects that trekking business will revive by 25 percent from August and more than 60 percent by autumn next year.

The report, however, notes that a number of villages like Phakding and Jorsale have significant existing rockfall hazard while Toktok, Bengkar and Shomore have been affected by very serious geotechnical hazards.

According to the report, the damage in the lower valley, below Namche Bazaar, is greater than in the upper valley as the slopes are generally steeper in the lower valley.

“In the lower valley, the damage tends to be concentrated on the true right side of the river. This is likely because the dominant defect orientations within the rock are dipping out of slope on the true right and into slope on the true left. This means that there are more kinematically feasible failure mechanisms on the right side of the river,” the report said.

The report further said that there may also be a seismic directivity effect since the true right of the river may have been shaken in a different manner from the true left as the United States Geological Society (USGS) modeling shows clear propagation of energy toward the east.

To manage risks associated with the hazards identified by the study, the team has recommended completing a detailed risk assessment study, including assessment of likelihood of failure, occupancy of specific areas of trail and villages, and combining these with hazard to assess the risk.

The team comprised of a structural engineer, a geotechnical engineer, a professional mountain guide, a project coordinator and an operations manager. It assessed 15 villages, 710 buildings and nine suspension bridges.

As per the report, out of approximately 710 buildings, earthquake damage of structural concern was observed in 120 buildings i.e. 17 percent, 83 percent of buildings can be given a green tag per Applied Technology Council-20/ Department of Urban Development and Building Construction guidelines.

The good thing, according to the report, is that most of the buildings that were damaged can feasibly be repaired and building owners have started reconstructing damaged buildings.

“The major concern is accommodation and the trails. As the trails are safe and the buildings, most of which are lodges under reconstruction, we can disseminate the message that trekking can resume in the region very soon,” said Pandey.

However, to provide training and guidelines during these critical months of reconstruction would greatly improve the overall built environment of accommodation structures on the trail, the report said.

“The owners also are facing severe shortages of cement, rebar and labor. Supply chains needs to be facilitated to ensure that these materials are readily available and that the quality of repair works will not be comprised due to these shortages,” the report stated.

Report highlights:

  • Many villages on the Everest Base Camp trail namely Lukla, Namche, Khumjung, Tengboche, and all villages above Dingboche do not appear to have been affected by landslide hazards.
  • Villages like Phakding and Jorsale have significant existing rockfall hazard while Toktok, Bengkar and Shomore have been affected by very serious geotechnical hazards.
  • None of the nine suspension bridges assessed by Miyamoto engineers appear to have been affected by new geotechnical hazards.
  • Much of the trail and most of the rock retaining walls, both above and below the trails, are undamaged.
  • Of approximately 710 buildings, earthquake damage of structural concern was observed in 120 buildings i.e. 17 percent and 83 percent of buildings can be given a green tag.
  • The damaged buildings can be repaired and building owners have started reconstruction.

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