Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:12
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Quake-hit Nepal starts to see return of Chinese tourists
A Chinese backpacker in Nepal. (File photo/CNS)

Kathmandu : 24 year-old Lin Xiaoyun had never stepped outside of her native country, China. Being involved in a Chinese language center in Guangdong province as a language teacher, she decided to broaden her horizons, and travel for the first time to Nepal with friends this month.

Following the April 25 massive earthquake, her parents opposed her plans due to concerns of continuous aftershocks and other risks. But nevertheless, Lin landed in the Himalayan nation on Aug. 19 in a holiday mood ignoring the devastation.

"It's a great feeling to be in this beautiful country. I am not afraid of quakes or aftershocks as it's a natural phenomenon. I had heard about great damage here but found much less. Everything seems well," Lin told Xinhua while celebrating Chinese Valentine's Day with her friends .

The April quake, which claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people and damaged hundreds of thousands of houses, naturally also had a great impact on the country's tourism. The country had been busy at this time of year for the past two seasons owing to the huge number of Chinese tourists. The April quake thus thus affected the business of hotels, restaurants, travel and tours, airlines, and adventure-related organizations.

Chinese tourists have gradually started to return, giving some much-needed momentum to the industry.

Yee, a Chinese travel and tour operator, has been working in Nepal with local partners for the last two years. He brought the first group of Chinese tourists to Nepal just one month after the deadly quake.

Yee told Xinhua, "I brought four Chinese groups after April and took them to Chitwan and Pokhara, areas not touched by the quake. They didn't feel any risk or uneasiness as airports, hotels and infrastructure were safe."

"The government should cut visa and other fees in order to encourage more foreigners to visit this country," Yee suggested.

According to the government's tourism statistics, 790,118 foreign tourists visited Nepal in 2014. China provided the second-highest number after India.

An Jing arrived in Nepal from China in the second week of April, just a week before the quake. She was in Pokhara when the earthquake struck. Following the pressure and worries from her family, she left Nepal in early May. But the beauty of the country and the warmth of its people saw her return as soon as possible.

Jing told Xinhua, "I find everything as it was before the quake. People are still friendly and full of life. Tourists from all parts of the world should visit Nepal at this critical time and help this country arise."

After the quake, 90% of hotels are in operation, seven out of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites are open to tourists and 32 out of 35 trekking routes have not been affected by the quake.

As Nepal has completed its relief programs, the focus is on reconstruction and rebuilding. For this, the government has already formed a Reconstruction Authority led by Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel.

Though almost all countries have lifted their travel advisory against Nepal, there is still a sense of fear that can be removed only through word of mouth.

Duan Yin Feng from China recently completed 12 days of trekking in the popular Annapurna circuit. "It is my first time in Nepal. I found the trekking route to be very safe besides some damage caused by landslides after monsoons. My Chinese friends are worried about the situation here, I was afraid too. But after my return, I will encourage them to visit Nepal." - Xinhua

Aug 25, 2015

Published in Nepal News

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