After the earthquake (and several aftershocks) that hit Nepal in April 2015, tourism went down for a couple of months. Tourism recovery is on its way.
Post earthquake tourism
Most efforts were put into relief work, although after a couple of weeks, a growing group of tourism entrepeneurs started to promote Nepal again as a tourist destination. With the hashtag #NepalNow and a brilliant social media-campaign where tourists were sharing pictures holding the sign I AM IN NEPAL NOW, they managed to make a beginning with the recovery of the tourism industry in Nepal.
Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for Nepal, giving jobs to thousands of Nepali families. Getting travellers back to Nepal is definitely a good way of helping the Nepali people. Furthermore, travelling in Nepal in this post earthquake era creates awareness with tourists about the political and economical situation of one of the poorest countries in the world.
First travellers back in June 2015
For the 2015 summer months we planned several trips to Nepal, mostly to the remote Kingdom of Mustang. As this region was less affected, we decided not to cancel this trips from our side. People who were enrolled were give the possibility of cancelling their trip, but after some reconsideration everyone decided to go to Nepal. Most clients on this trip were ‘repeaters’ who knew the country, had friends amongst guides/porters and wanted to see with their own eyes how the situation was like. Some of them decided to stay longer and help.
Main season started in October 2015
The main season for trips to Nepal is october to december. In the first months after the earthquake not much new people were interested in booking a trip to Nepal, but all those who were already enrolled, went there. They were surprised about the flexibility and strength of the country in the recovery process. Although some areas still were off limits, most classic treks like Everest and Annapurna were possible with only some minor problems.
Nevertheless, the normally bustling streets of Thamel were empty and a lot of people in the tourist industry had a hard time in keeping up their business (or better: surviving).
What will 2016 bring ?
We all hope that more and more travellers will come back to Nepal. We are convinced this is the best way to help Nepali people: creating jobs, spending money that goes straight to those who need it, supporting local businesses,…
It is also time to maybe re-think the whole concept of travelling in Nepal. Nepal was / is known as a real backpacking destination attracting thousands of backpackers who stroll around the country on a couple of dollars a day, barely adding any value to the Nepalese economy.
Maybe it good now to also focus on more sustainable ways of travelling in Nepal, with added values. Or trying to focus on new emerging market like the growing luxury tourism that contributes more money to Nepal (provided that the initiatives taken stay in local hands).
Don’t hesitate to come to Nepal: the Himalayas are still there, most of the cultural heritage is untouched, Nepali people are still giving you the warmest welcome in the world