• Back from Nepal: With Stories of Rebound and Economic Hope

    Ramesh Tiwari
    November 4, 2015
    Back from Nepal: With Stories of Rebound and Economic Hope

    By Shannon Stowell —

    In May, the ATTA determined to help Nepal as the country began the staggering work of recovering from an event that killed thousands and affected millions who were trying to get back to life and work. We didn’t know how to be a disaster relief organization, so we had to rely on where our expertise exists. And that’s why we created AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trails.

    The ATTA regularly works with a corp of media and destination marketing superstars who understand what we’re trying to do: make travel better for the people who host us in their countries and the guests we convince to visit. We wanted to take those writers, photographers and professional adventurers to Nepal to determine if we as an industry could declare loud and clear that “Nepal is open for business.”

    This was contrary to messages coming from other sources reporting that Nepal is unsafe, which we found to be plainly untrue. So much of what was being reported in the months following the earthquake has focused solely on trauma and damage. When an actress takes the stage and the spotlight is trained on only her, the audience has no choice but to look at her. In the meantime, in the background, unnoticed is a whole other reality of activity and movement. This is what has happened in Nepal. The media spotlight had led us to believe that Nepal was in essence flattened — that Nepal was certainly not somewhere you’d want to go or send your clients. While parts of Nepal have sustained some damage (14 out of 75 districts to be exact), the truth is that most of the country is still functional and more than ready for tourism.

    We decided we had to go. We curated a group of media and tour operators, 19 strong, split into two groups and each spent close to a week touring two of the most important regions of Nepal: Everest and Annapurna. We hiked, biked, visited cultural centers and libraries, ate dal bhat, paraglided, flew in ultralights, and shopped in local markets. We saw wildlife, hung out with locals and watched the full moon in the Himalayas. We saw so many attractions, hiked so many Great Himalaya Trails, stayed in so many great guest houses and hotels, and the outcome of that effort is quite straightforward: now we can safely (and loudly) say that the vast majority of Nepali tourism resources are open for business. And they are as magical and charming as ever.

    Why does it matter that we went? Why is it important for tourism in Nepal to recover? Nepal’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which by all accounts appears to be down 60 – 75% based on numerous interviews within the supply chain. The implications of this are dire. Most of Nepal’s rural inhabitants are economically fragile and dependent on an industry that has trickled income into the most remote parts of the destination for the past 50 years. Adventure tourism, which is the core of Nepal’s tourism, leaves around 65% of the customer’s spend right there in local hands, which is remarkable compared to the alternative forms of tourism where much of the value leaves the local economy.

    Implications of earthquake-induced poverty ripple outward: Wildlife are immediately at higher risk as people become desperate financially at the same time a reprehensible market for illegal wildlife body parts continues to thrive. Vulnerable women and children move closer to the dangerous line of having to do whatever it takes to satisfy needs for shelter and food. Men are forced to leave their families and countries to build soccer stadiums in Qatar and skyscrapers in Dubai under conditions that sometimes amount to indentured servitude. The longer tourism lags in Nepal, the more damage will be done to the social fabric of the country as well as the economic well being of her people.

    There are signs of hope. After meeting with hundreds of Nepalis working in the tourism industry, we were encouraged by their drive to recover and determination to do it right.

    Anil Chitrakar was our guide in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur — a master storyteller who gave us a top-rate education in the socio-economic-philosophic-spiritual- cultural-architectural history of the region. As modernity sets in and cultures trend toward the more globo-homogenous, we’ve seen the erosion of traditional skills and craftwork. But in Nepal, he explained, woodworkers have been turning out exquisite carvings for years — in part to satisfy tourists who want to take something beautiful home to remind them of their time in this magical place. So now, there are thousands of artisans equipped to help repair 700+ damaged cultural sites with an artist’s love and skill to keep Nepal’s story intact for the future. It might even be that the souvenir industry will suffer as a bit as these artists work on the “real thing” for a time. I expect we will see a burst of historic artistry flowing from Nepal when this is over. Chitrakar made this clear: “We have had to rebuild approximately every 100 years. We will do it again.”

    The tourism industry within Nepal is also doing what it can to help others. Fourteen villages in the Langtang area were wiped out in the earthquake. Dwarika’s Hotel, an iconic property in Kathmandu, has taken on the project to help these villages rebuild with the help of expertise both within and outside of Nepal. The aim of all parties involved is to combine and rebuild into six villages utilizing modern earthquake safety knowledge while also keeping the old cultural feel of traditional Nepali architecture. Right now, in the meantime, the people from those villages are in a camp, dubbed “Camp Hope” in Kathmandu in tents donated by Oman and the USA with as many as four families per tent.

    What can we do now that we’ve been there? What can you do with what we’ve brought back? Keep selling Nepal. Keep encouraging your clients to go to Nepal. Call up your suppliers and get first-hand knowledge about what is possible to see and do on the ground. And you should go there too — go experience a people and a destination which has been rattled but not broken. Go because #AdventureCares

    – adventuretravelnews.com , Nov 4, 2015

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      News Brief

      Kabul: Afghan security forces have regained control of Intercontinental Hotel, hours after the gunmen burst into the hotel shooting at guests and staff. At least five civilians were killed and six were injured in the siege. Three of the attackers have been killed and more than 150 guests were rescued. No group has said it carried out the attack, but the Taliban targeted the Intercontinental hotel in 2011.

      Beijing: China’s economy grew by 6.9% in 2017 according to official data – the first time in seven years the pace of growth has picked up. The figure beats Beijing’s official annual expansion target of about 6.5%. Gross domestic product (GDP) totaled 82.71 trillion yuan (about 12.84 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017, with the service sector accounting for more than half of the total.

      Shanghai: China Eastern Airlines and other domestic airlines have begun to allow mobile phone use on their aircraft or announced plans to lift a ban. China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines began to allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PED), such as smartphones and tablets.China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced they would allow mobile phone use on all their flights this week. – Agencies

      2017 in review -Top stories

      January 1 : New year nightclub attack leaves 39 dead in Istanbul
      January 20 : Republican billionaire Donald Trump sworn in as 45th US president
      January 23 : Syria peace talks begin in Kazakh capital Astana
      March 29 :United Kingdom officially launches the Brexit process
      April 4 :Syria launches chemical attack killing 90 people
      April 6 : US cruise missiles destroy Syrian air base
      April 9 : Bombings at two churches in Egypt kill dozens
      April 16 : Refugee death toll passes 1,000 in Mediterranean
      April 16 :Turkey says YES to presidential system
      May 6 :Emmanuel Macron elected French president defeating Marine Le Pen
      May 19 :Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani wins re-election
      May 22 : Terrorist attack kills 22 at Manchester concert
      June 5 : Gulf nations severe ties with Qatar
      June 7 :Suicide bombers attack Iranian parliament killing 13 people
      June 14 :London fire kills 71 in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower
      July 4 :North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s missile ambitions
      July 28 : Pakistan’s top court disqualifies Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office
      August 5 :US withdraws from Paris climate change pact
      August 17 :Storms cause record damage in Caribbean and southern United States
      August 25 :Muslim Rohingya start fleeing Rakhine state in Myanmar
      September 15 : NASA’s 13-year Saturn mission ends
      September 20 : Earthquake kills more than 200 in Mexico
      September 24 : Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel wins fourth term
      September 26 : Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving
      October 1 : Gunman opens fire on Las Vegas music festival killing 59 people
      October 14 : Massive bombing in Somalia’s capital Modadishu kill more than 500 people
      October 24 : China confirms the elevation of President Xi Jinping to the same status as the nation’s founder, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping, by enshrining ‘Xi Jinping thought’ in the party’s constitution at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
      October 27 : Catalonia declares independence from Spain
      November 4 : S audi Arabia detains 11 princes, four ministers and ten former ministers in a corruption probe
      November 12 : Iran-Iraq magnitude 7.3 earthquake kills more than 500
      November 15 : Argentine navy submarine disappears with 44 crew on board
      November 21 : Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years in power. His former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa will become president.
      November 22 : Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic convicted of genocide in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian War
      November 24 : Gunmen kill hundreds at Sinai mosque in Egypt
      December 4 : Houthi militants assassinate Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh
      December 5 : Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics for state-sponsored doping
      December 6 : US President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
      December 17 : Price of one bitcoin reaches a new high of $19,783.06 dollars
      December 21 : Yemen’s cholera outbreak
      December 22 : Syria peace talks in Astana (compiled)

      Top ten most visited cities

      Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), 56 million more than in the same period of 2016 .The top ten most visited cities are:
      HONG KONG26.6 million
      BANGKOK 21.2 million
      LONDON19.2 million
      SINGAPORE16.6 million
      MACAU15.4 million
      DUBAI14.9 million
      PARIS14.4 million
      NEW YORK12.7 million
      SHENZHEN12.6 million
      KUALA LUMPUR12.3 million

      Source: Euromonitor International

      Wildlife in Chitawan , Nepal

      Window of Nepal Tourism