Kathmandu, Nov 4: The tourists visiting Nepal in the aftermath of the massive earthquake have opined that Nepalâ€™s pristine beauty has remained intact while the tourist destinations are safe for travel.
Australian photographer Beniji Santa Maria during his visit to tourist destinations found that they were safer for travel. He travelled for a week at the Ghandruk Himalayan area at the world famous Annapurna Trekking route and also visited major destinations inside Pokhara, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.
â€œThe media had been disseminating such news as if to convey to the world a message that the earthquake completely destroyed all the infrastructures in Nepal, but I have found that it is not true and I have seen that the hotels, restaurants, trek routes and famous tourist destinations are safe for travel,â€ Santa Maria said.
He said travelling to Nepal was a dream come true for him and termed Nepal an â€˜extremely romantic placeâ€™. The Australian will return to Nepal in March next year as he could not get enough from the current visit. With deeply entrenched passion for Nepali lifestyle and culture, and the untouched villages of the Himalayan range, the Australian wants to hold an exhibition of the photos that he took in Nepal when he gets back home.
Santa Maria says that the Dhaulagiri mountain, the Annapurna mountain range and Pokhara valley seen from the Pun Hill located 3,200 meters above the sea level has mesmerized him and so has the beauty of Newari culture of Kathmandu Valley and its peculiar lifestyle.
â€œNepal is really splendid in terms of natural beauty and also secure, and it is necessary to spread this message world over,â€ said Santa Maria before leaving for Indonesia and Malaysia. The tourist has travelled to more than a dozen countries.
Canadian nationals, Bruce Edwards and Theresa Roberts, visited Nepal for the fourth time to help the quake victims and convey the message to the would-be tourists around the world after accessing Nepalâ€™s condition.
This Canadian couple with a special liking for traveling to many destinations in the world has started a campaign of garnering support for the quake victims through a website and acted as liaison between the donors and the victims. They say that support had been collected for quake-stricken schools and children. â€œIt was merely an illusion that we thought the earthquake would make traveling in Nepal difficult, but there are no problems for accommodation and food, however, fuel scarcity is making life difficult here,â€ Roberts said.
During their visit to Pokhara and other destinations for a month after coming to Kathmandu they mobilised support for rebuilding community buildings including some schools through the website and identifying the quake victims. â€œWe will help spread a positive message that traveling to Nepal with the magnificent Himalayan range, alpine lakes, rivers, hills, different languages, culture and traditional lifestyle is safe,â€ the Canadian couple, who came to Nepal after visiting South Korea, said.
A couple with surname Gunter from New York who were strolling around at the Basantapur Durbar square said although the media had depicted Nepal has a completely ruined place, it was not true.
â€œSome monuments have collapsed, but there is no difficulties and lack of facilities for tourists to stay and travel in Nepal and we will convey this message when we return back to the US,â€ they said. The couple is also planning to visit Bhutan.
Tourists have started showing up at the Bhaktapur, Patan and Basantapur Durbar areas but the number is much less as compared to previous year. The failure to disseminate information regarding touristsâ€™ accommodation and tour packages in the post-quake Nepal has led to a drastic shrinkage in the number of visits at the height of the ongoing tourist season.
The Basantapur Durbar Square tourist information center said that in fiscal year 2014/15 a total of 27,116 tourists visited the area. The Durbar Square collected Rs 157 million from them. This year 5,593 tourists have visited by the first week of October. Last year 22, 255 tourists had come for visits by mid-August while between mid-August and mid-September a total of 16,000 tourists visited Basantapur.
Sujan Rijal, who has been working as a tour guide for the last five years, said the number of tourists visiting Nepal as compared to last year has come down.
â€œThe tourists have declined this season as we failed to send information at the right time that Nepalâ€™s tourism destinations suffered less impact during the earthquake,â€ Rijal said, adding, â€œLooking at the touristsâ€™ visits right now we can assume that the number will increase in the next season.â€