KATHMANDU : Even though tour operators have projected up to 85 percent drop in booking for this autumn due to the devastating earthquake of April 25, booking for the season looks promising.
The recent relaxation of travel advisories by New Zealand followed by the US and the UK has lifted the confidence of tour operators. They are now hopeful about sending good number of visitors to Nepal.
Rajendra Sapkota, board member of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said Nepal is ready to welcome tourists. “More than 90 percent of our hotels are safe. Similarly, only 11 out of 75 districts, three out of 35 trekking routes, and three out of 19 national parks and conservation areas have been affected by the earthquake and only one of eight UNESCO World Heritage sites (cultural) is closed,” he said, adding that they expect to welcome around 550,000 tourists this year.
Fahim Rahim from Pocatello, Idaho (US), who has visited Nepal twice after the earthquake, writes in his Facebook post that love of Nepalis will bring tourists back to this country. “Let me assure that you will arrive as friends but you will leave as family once you visit Nepal. I have witnessed a great amount of strength, perseverance and hope and hence I want to start the campaign ‘Come Visit Nepal’ to invite all people to come to Nepal,” Rahim writes.
Tour operators say they have read lots of posts in social media about people interested to visit Nepal. But they are seeking information about Nepal, they add.
“We need information about which place is safe and which is not so that we can bring Japanese tourists to Nepal,” Sonia Miyahara of Himalayan Kanko Japan said.
The Yak Attack — the highest mountain bike race in the world which begins in Shivapuri and ends at Tatopani after crossing Thorang Pass (5416m), has receiving 40 bookings so far. The event will start on November 6 and concluded on November 18. Last year, the event had seen 37 participants.
According to Kate Hobson, one of the organizers of The Yak Attack, the event had 37 participants last year. “We are expecting 60 participants this year as the event is becoming popular with each passing year,” he said, adding, “We have received bookings from South Korea, Australia, America, Germany, UK, Switzerland, India, France, Brazil, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Italy, New Zealand, Belgium, South Africa, Colombia, Canada, Sweden Japan and Sri Lanka so far.”
Beatrice Hearne from the United Kingdom, who has booked a trip for herself and her husband for October, said they have already deposited money to their Nepali tour operator to show their commitment to visit and help Nepal.
“Many travelers who have booked their trip earlier have not cancelled their trip,” Amar Shahi, general secretary of Nepal Association of tour Operators (NATO) and owner of Raika Tours and Travels, said. “The problem is with the new bookings.”