Ancient scriptures say there was a sacred island on a lake between mountains where a blue lotus grew. With his sword, Buddha Manjushri cut a gorge into the rocks. The lake ran dry and turned into a fertile soil.
- This is how Katmandu Valley was born -
For centuries, Nepali people have managed to build many beautiful temples and monasteries in the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. The number of Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples is undefinable. This amalgam of cultural and built heritage, beside the fame of the Himalayan expeditions, has forged the Nepali reputation among the most famous touristic destinations.
Indeed, the Kathmandu Valley is inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage as a single site comprising of seven Monuments Zones. These monuments are part of the cultural and built heritage of the country and most of all they are part of the Nepali authenticity.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation Nepal took a census of 790’118 tourists in 2014. This number unfortunately decreased after the terrible earthquake that happened in April 2015. Most of the treks that have been planned were cancelled and many tourists shortened their stay and took the first plane they could get to fly back home. Despite the fact that it impeached the help from other countries to arrive.
Indeed the quake damaged some heritage sites and did immense harm to Nepal’s image. But the fact is that heritage sites in only 10 of the 75 districts in Nepal were affected.
Moreover the border agitation, which led to “economic blockade” of the landlocked country, send the message that Nepal is not safe anymore for holiday-makers.
Since then, tourism in Nepal has a hard time to recover which leads to a huge economic loss. Even though local communities have put a lot of effort and money into the reconstruction of some of the monument such as Bouddhanath in Kathmandu City, the tourists are still afraid to come and enjoy the endless activities and wonders that this country offers. Moreover the international media has almost completely destroyed the image of the country as a safe destination, resulting in a dramatic decrease of the number of tourists. For instance in the months following the earthquake some hotels registered an occupation rate of less than 5%.
Tourism is a really important sector for Nepal; it contributes substantially to a strong economic growth, the creation of skilled and semi-skilled jobs, greater export returns, foreign investments and currencies, economic well-being and social stability. Usually 55’000 tourists arrive every year between May and June to visit Nepal’s protected areas, but last year, this number has dropped close to zero says the Nepal Tourism Board.
Anyway Nepal is totally safe! I am myself in Kathmandu right now and I have never felt myself so safe. No quake or maybe a little one, but nothing to declare and its part of the adventure anyway. My colleague and I are both working here in Nepal and even as women we could not expect any better security.
Don’t be afraid anymore! Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and nature-lovers have so much to see and learn from this country. Being afraid of coming and visit would be missing a great opportunity to discover a country where there is so much to love.