Kathmandu, April 13, 2016:Â When Bhaktapur opened up for tourists after last Aprilâ€™s earthquake on June 12, only 20 tourists visited the ancient city in the first month, recalls Damodar Suwal, the local tourist information officer.
It was a difficult periodÂ for the residents who, still shaken by one of the worst calamities in the countryâ€™s history, were trying to regain normalcy in their life so much dependent on international tourists who drive the cityâ€™s economy.
It took over four months for the cityâ€™s tourism business to stir up from the lull, says Suwal.
â€œFor the first time in the month of October, Bhaktapur was visited by 7,500 tourists and then from the next month the number of visitors started to grow,â€ said Suwal.
Around 60,000 tourists have visited Bhaktapur since the devastating earthquake and the authorities project that by the end of this fiscal year around 100,000 tourists would have visited the city.
According to the Tourist Information Centre of Bhaktapur, the number of visitors in the last two months of February and March registered an encouraging growth, 85,000 and 12,000 respectively.
â€œOf course, these figures do not compare with theÂ previous years, but they are definitely encouraging indicators,â€ Suwal said. â€œThe people are optimistic about the future of this city.â€
Cultural expert Om Dhaubhadel is one of theÂ optimists. â€œSome of the cityâ€™s iconic temples andÂ monuments suffered great damages, but that has not hurt the culture of Bhaktapur,â€ he said.
Bhaktapur is currently celebrating the annual Bisket Jatra, a nine-day festival which is already attracting many tourists to the city. The city has already opened its doors to visitors.