World Heritage Sites to Open from June 15
The government has decided to re-open the country’s world heritage sites for tourists from June 15. An official opening programme will be conducted in Kathmandu at Durbar Square, said Nepal Tourism Board. The decision was made in a meeting between the Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation ministry, the Tourism Recovery Committee and various experts and archeologists.
“Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambunath and Patan Durbar Square will open on June 15. Whereas, Bouddhanath, Budanilakantha and Pashupatinath are still open for tourists because they are comparatively safe,” said Bhesnarayan Dahal, DG of the archaeology department, According to the department as much as 581 heritage sites are fully or partially damaged.
Goma Restarts Pokhara-Jomsom Flights
Goma Airlines restarted flights on its Pokhara-Jomsom route on May 26. “We flew twice on the very first day,” said Manoj Karki, the Managing Director. “We will fly regularly with capable pilots keeping safety as a first concern,” he added. The popular route is also used by Simrik, Tara and Nepal airlines. Goma started operating in 2011 and currently has four aircraft.
PATA International to Help Nepal Tourism Recovery
PATA International has taken the initiative to help and support the bounce back campaign of Nepal’s tourism. To move ahead with the recovery task, an initial preliminary interaction program was organized on 24 May 2015 in the capital. The program was actively participated by 60 key personalities from the Public and Private Sectors of Nepal to explore and exchange ideas on tourism recovery initiatives in the aftermath of 25/04 Earth Quake.
PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) International Vice President, Andrew Jones, suggested to have more promotional programmes and engage celebrities. He further assured to mobilize PATA Network to help Nepal to overcome the recent crisis. PATA is also going to recommend Nepal Government, PATA Nepal Chapter and PATA Headquarters with action oriented plan.
Bert Van Walbeek, crisis management expert from PATA Headquarters presented various ideas on the recovery process. He strongly asked Nepali tourism stakeholders to believe in positive things and suggested not to offer discount packages but give additional value added services to the guests. He also shared the experience of Egypt, Bali, Thailand and Japan and highlighted the programs and plans that helped these destinations recover quickly.
National Planning Commission member Chandra Mani Adhikari asked stakeholders to work on to re-build damages, try to showcase the heritages which are intact and be positive towards the daily business life. He believed that the input from the PATA Experts will help us to formulate short-term, mid-term, and long-term plans of Nepal Government for tourism.
Similarly, Suresh Man Shrestha, Secretary at Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation informed about the formation and programs being carried out by the Tourism Recovery Committee- TRC. He said that the government will follow the right suggestions made in the plan.
Basanta Mishra, PATA Secretary, believed that if things go smoothly, Nepal’s tourism can bounce back in the upcoming season starting from September 2015.
A recovery plan with clear guidelines and action plan is to be prepared by Mid June 2015 with the help of PATA experts. This joint initiative of PATA International and Tourism Recovery Committee is expected to be an effective and instrumental tool to uplift Nepal’s tourism ahead.
Thamel Getting Ready for Next Tourist Season
Thamel, one of the country’s busiest tourist hubs, will return to normal before the arrival of the next tourist season, said the Thamel Development Board.
Besides the nine people who lost their lives when a budget hotel collapsed there were no other casualties in the area. Buildings in danger of collapse are being dismantled and removed, said the board.
“Buildings around Thamel are safe,” said Ramsaran Thapalia, chairman of the board. The board is working with house owners and local groups to remove the debris from collapsed buildings. Since Thamel is the capital’s central tourist hub and often the first port of call for visitors, the area should be rebuilt fast, Thapalia further added. According to data from the board, a sizeable chunk of business owners and workers in Thamel come from Sindupalchock, Dolakha, Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts, areas where the earthquake hit the hardest. Some of them have lost loved ones and relatives.
Thapalia also added that the board is trying to establish a post earthquake Tourist Information Center in Thamel. After adequate management of security and electricity, the board is planning to make Thamel open for 24 hours.