One year after the earthquake that devastated a nation, Nepal is offering visitors the chance to be part of something more than tourism.
Any Nepal visitor expecting a country devastated by the 2015 earthquakes is in for a big surprise. Not that the quakes didn’t take their toll. On the contrary, the quake on April 25, killed over 8,000 people and left more than 3.5 million homeless, while an aftershock on May 12 killed over 200 more. But Nepal’s rebound in the past year has been spectacular, driven by a renewed energy and a sense of optimism.
In 2016, Nepal is inviting tourists to be part of this remarkable recovery. Part of this is driven by necessity. Tourism accounts for almost 10% of Nepal’s GDP, employing almost half a million people in the country. But it’s also a chance for visitors to be inspired by Nepal’s resilience first hand, viewing its rich culture and heritage through that lens.
Most visitors start in Kathmandu, and many list the Nepalese capital among their favourite cities in the world. It’s home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage monuments, including Durbar Square, Bhaktpur, and Patan. The work to renew these sites after the quake demonstrates the delicate balance Nepal must find between embracing its future and preserving the past.
To make it easier for visitors wanting to get the most out of today’s Nepal, the Tourism Cares Recovery Fund for Nepal has created the Meaningful Travel Map of Nepal. This simple map, as seen below, highlights some of Nepal’s familiar stars such as Chitwan National Park, and of course, the Himalayas. But it also focuses on drawcards that help Nepal’s future, including blind massage program, Seeing Hands, and the work of programs such as Next Generation Nepal, and Social Tours, which involve tourists with the rebuild in ways that leave both traveller and country enriched.
Besides direct work with tourists, Tourism Cares has been working extensively behind the scenes in Nepal over the past year, providing hospitality training and certification for 40 lodge and tea house owners and workers from Lantang, technology access and education for tourism businesses in Tuckhe, Mustang, and training for six visually impaired massage therapists at Seeing Hands Nepal.
With the help of our generous globetrotters, Goway was proud to help support Tourism Cares last year, in the wake of the Nepal quake. Tourism can be one of the most powerful recovery tools for a country in need, bringing not just money, but understanding, support, and ongoing opportunity for regions affected by disaster.
On April 16th of this year, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador, just outside the coastal city of Muisne, killing over 500 people, including four Canadians and an American. While it’s too early to tell what specific assistance the country may need in its recovery, continued support from tourism will greatly assist the region in getting back on its feet.