International adventure and culture tour operators stick by Nepal

Boudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu valley, NepalBoudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu valley, Nepal – Credit:

[UPDATE] Thursday, April 30, 2015 with PATA Foundation’s reaction

ADVENTURE and culture tour operators say it is difficult to assess how the earthquake will reshape Nepal tourism in the long run, but have pledged continued support for the country.

Darrell Wade, co-founder of Intrepid Travel, told TTG Asia e-Daily in an email interview: “From a social and historic perspective, a lot of damage has clearly been done – several (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites have been all but destroyed. From an economic perspective, tourism is extremely important to Nepal, being its biggest employer.

“Hopefully, travellers will see that by traveling they will be supporting the people of the country. I suspect some however will be put off, thinking that the facilities and infrastructure will not be adequate.”

Holger Baldus, managing director of Marco Polo Reisen, said: “We don’t know yet the impact on the infrastructure in the areas outside Kathmandu valley. In the long run, outdoor tourism will surely come back to Nepal (but) regarding the more cultural-oriented tours, we will have to see the final impact on the heritage sites.”

For both Intrepid and Marco Polo, bookings to Nepal have been on the rise and both had clients in the country at the time of the disaster. They have thus set their sights on bringing clients back to Kathmandu, and home – itself a complex task due to disrupted road and air services.

The priority now for both tour operators now is providing relief – Intrepid started an appeal last Sunday and raised A$208,000 (US$166,194) within 36 hours, a figure that is still growing – and about rebuilding efforts, which tour operators said are crucial to bring back tourism.

Said Mandip Singh Soin, founder/managing director of Ibex Expeditions: “With all these tragedies of this magnitude, tourists actually start by staying away but the moment the basics are set right (they will start to return). That is the very thing that is needed; economic rehabilitation through tourism is so important.”

The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu valley, the epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude quake that devastated the region and its surrounds, suffered “extensive and irreversible damage”, according to the BBC, which quoted UNESCO director-general, Irinia Bokova.

The site is made up of seven monument zones, out of which the three “noble courts” in the settlements of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan have been “almost fully destroyed”. The other four are the Buddhist stupas at Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, and Hindu temple complexes at Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan.

The BBC reported that UNESCO will dispatch experts to examine the damage.

For those keen to help, Habitat for Humanity is collecting donations for its Disaster Relief Fund for Nepal, as is the Singapore Red Cross online at

Peter Semone, PATA Foundation chairman, said: “Within hours of the April 25 earthquake that killed and injured thousands of people and devastated much of Kathmandu’s tourism infrastructure , the PATA Foundation made a commitment to assist the PATA Nepal Chapter in its tourism industry recovery efforts. We are still awaiting exact details on to how we intend to mobilise PATA Foundation money in the coming weeks and months once the immediate humanitarian crisis response efforts have been completed. Without question, we anticipate a great need for reconstruction of iconic heritage and culture sites as well as interventions to help people and organisations rebuild their tourism businesses.

“It is with this in mind that the PATA Foundation has established a Nepal Earthquake Tourism Recovery Fund, which the PATA Foundation has contributed an initial amount of US$10,000. Admittedly, the available PATA Foundation funds represent only a small contribution to what is certain to be an extraordinary need in terms of money and technical assistance. Therefore, we welcome individual and organisations to contribute to additional money to this fund by making donations through the link (above).”

What needs to be done? Read the News Analysis, TTG Asia, May 15, 2015

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