Tourism after April earthquake

By Sudhan Subedi

Natural disasters are not in our hands. Sometimes they test level of patience and affect our daily routine. Earthquake that rocked Nepal five months ago was new in everyone’s life history. Time did not halt after that. People are already back to their business as usual. Some of us opined that tourism might have hard time. Seeing at places destructed with waves of quake, people might say tourism would face a jolt. They are right to some extent.  But if we see at a larger picture, this might just be opportunity waiting us at our doorstep.
For tourists this can be the best time to visit Nepal as it is being rebuilt. They can go further helping in the process by donating or volunteering. Their knowhow on rebuilding is crucial for us. We can work together. Furthermore, hospitable attitude of Nepalis will make their stay memorable.
Recently we celebrated SaParu (GaiJatra). This is the festival to honor departed soul and moving on with life. The celebration of this year was very grand as there were numerous people who lost their lives. Now their families are taking out cow to the street wishing, praying for eternal peace of departed soul. People blend humor to Gaijatra celebration to spread the message that the ‘show must go on’.
Making a doodle on its homepage, popular search engine Google saluted the resilience of Nepalis. International communities have commended rehabilitation work carried out by different individuals and institutions. People who lost their near and dear ones and have no roof for shelter still did not miss smile on their face and welcoming gesture.
Nepal has lot more things to show. What can I see in Nepal?
This generic question is answered by all travel trade people. Everest, Lumbini, trekking, river, landscape, festivals, people or weather you name we have all. We have superlatives more than ten other countries put together. Even after the devastating earthquake, things are almost the same. Our few historical monuments are damaged which are now being rebuilt while rest are standing tall.
There are lots of things still not seen by rest of the world. They have impressions of Everest only. I have overheard people saying how can a country full of mountains be a destination for old people like me. There are popular trekking routes like Annapurna which is very easily walkable and people of all age groups can readily enjoy it. This is the reason why BBC has said it is one of the 50 destinations one must see before dying. The country has lot of such soft treks.
Nepal is now all about Everest only. It is just not a place, a thing, a trek, a mountain, an adventure, it is the people. It

ghalegaun 4
Locals welcoming visitors at Ghalegaun, Lamjung

has some stories, lives, families, and love. This is the time to travel to Nepal, make friends and listen to their stories.  Ask questions, feel, grow and learn. And love and be loved.  To see smiles and feel warmth, to witness perseverance and strength, determination, spirituality, culture, and pride.
Though few homes have fallen, families are still extending their arms and standing with smiles. This is the country of people, and hearts, helping each other, and saving their smiles. There is the power of the beautiful human spirit and blend of culture.
Tourists coming to Nepal as guests after the earthquake were so affected by people and their spirit that some of them have even made a promise to rebuild one of their schools that had been destroyed. After their stay in Nepal, many tourists felt they have changed. They forever taught lessons of humanity and the human spirit, of strength, hope, and love.
Even after the massive earthquake, things are more or less same. People are ready to welcome visitors. Transformation is taking place; and tourist destinations are being developed in a sustainable way with solar electricity and bio gas. Level of awareness has increased and people are actively participating in development work. This pro-activeness can be used for tourism in the days to come.
Let the country; a dream destination and Shangri-La, regain its place in world tourism map.

(Author is an Officer at Nepal Tourism Board)

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