Less than two months after a devastating earthquake rocked the country, Nepal is already attempting to plot a course for the recovery of its vital tourism industry. Earlier this week the government there formed a committee to lead the revival of Nepal’s travel industry, although the group faces significant challenges in that endeavor.
The 36-member panel includes some notable names within the tourism and business development sectors within Nepal. The committee has already determined that it will take roughly Rs 21 billion ($205 million) to get recovery efforts back on track, and to that end they are seeking investments both locally and internationally. Those funds will go to repairing damaged infrastructure, including rebuilding some important cultural and heritage sites that were devastated by the April 25 earthquake.
The committee has also been charged with the important task of attempting to right the ship on Nepal’s mountaineering industry as well. Climbing expeditions on Mt. Everest and other major peaks ceased this spring due to the quake, which caused an avalanche near Everest Base Camp that claimed the lives of 18 people. That follows on the heels of last year’s disaster in which 16 Sherpas were killed in an avalanche higher up the mountain. That tragedy abruptly ended the 2014 season as well, leaving the entire climbing sector in disarray.
Part of what the recovery team hopes to accomplish is to get the word out that most of trekking routes and mountains are completely safe in the wake of the earthquake. Only parts of Lantang and the Manaslu Trail remain effected by the disaster. That means that most of Nepal is safe for travelers, and ready for foreign visitors to return. Unfortunately, not all of the infrastructure is in place, and fully operational just yet, although efforts are being made to correct that.
Without a doubt, this tourism committee faces an uphill battle in reviving the industry in the near future. In addition to the challenges they face with mountaineers and earthquake recovery, the country is also still reeling from another natural disaster last fall. That’s when an unusually powerful blizzard hit the Himalaya, killing more than 40 people – including foreign trekkers – and stranding hundreds along Nepal’s trekking routes. Each of these events has given many the perception that Nepal simply isn’t safe at the moment, which is causing some travelers to go elsewhere.
The recovery process is certainly going to be a long one, but considering the natural resources and beauty that Nepal possesses I’m sure it’ll get back to normal in time. Until that happens however, a lot of people that work in the travel industry there are going to struggle.
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