Nepal 2Nepal is up and running again and is eager for tourists to return. Jasmine O’Donoghue reports.

INTERASIA’S director Dan Nebauer says the Nepal has been ready for at least eight months, but tourists have been hesitant to flock back.

“There’s so much negative press following the earthquake that it put people off travelling and there hasn’t been enough good press about it to say ‘hey, it’s all okay, the infrastructure’s there, the major tourist spots are all active and Kathmandu remains with it’s beautiful history and charm,” Nebauer told travelBulletin.

While the 7.8 magnitude earthquake was devastating – killing 8,969 people and damaging or destroying over 887,000 homes – only five of Nepal’s 75 districts were strongly affected. A report commissioned by the Government of Nepal confirmed on 07 August that there was “minimal damage” to the majority of accommodation and trails in the Everest region, in Nepal’s northeast.

Futhermore, a government engineering report in November last year identified “very little damage to the area in north-central Nepal, with the 3% of buildings damaged in the quake all easily repairable”.

Outlying villages bore the brunt of the disaster and despite the scale of the event, hotels went largely untouched.

In order to reopen Nepal to tourism following the devastating earthquake, a lot of roadworks were done, along with some repairs to some key historical sights.

In July, only three out of 35 trekking routes remained affected, but Nebauer says that has since shrunk to one.

In 2014, tourism in Nepal was a US$348m industry and generated 487,500 jobs (3.5% of total employment).

As a county whose income is largely driven by tourism, the economy is suffering without a healthy income from tourists.

Those who do return have the opportunity to discover a “hidden gem”, Nebauer says.

“It has everything, from the backdrop of the himalayas, down to the jungle-clad flats where one of the world’s best national parks is – Chitwan National Park – the cities are full of history, dating back thousands of years, it’s just got a lot going for it.

“There is a real welcome waiting for [tourists], some incredible experiences and some great sightseeing,” Nebauer says.

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