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Slow recovery for Nepal industry after earthquake

Reporter: Shweta Bajaj 丨 CCTV.com

09-10-2016 19:36 BJT

Tourism is the backbone of the Nepal's economy. But things changed dramatically after a devastating earthquake in 2015. Since then, the industry's recovery has been slow and millions of people employed in the sector have been affected. Visitor numbers to the country remain below levels recorded before the quake.

Kathmandu’s bustling tourist district has more locals these days than tourists.

Shops, restaurants, streets. are waiting for the usual rush that Nepal sees in the month of September which promise to bring a good tourist season.

For millions of Nepalese who depend on tourism, life has not been the same after the earthquake.

Tourists have slowly started to come back to still injured streets of Nepal. But not in the same numbers. A large part of Nepal's GDP comes from tourism and to get its share up once again, Nepal's government and its tourism board has decided to step up the game.

The historic Darbar Square was heavily damaged during the earthquake killing 900 people.

Now tourists are far and in between in most corners you see locals.

When a tourist does make his way, thousands of vendors vie for their attention.

For tour guides, this was a busy spot but after the earthquake numbers have dwindled.

"It's too much. When I was a guide some years ago, it was a very good business. I can survive very easily but now this time it is very difficult. It's our bad luck. Not only for me, for all people. Like taxi driver, rickshaw driver, guide," said Rajesh Giri,  tourist guide.

India, China and US make the top 3 visitors for Nepal. Compared to right after the earthquake in 2015, 2016 figures are better but no where close to the figure of 2014 tourist arrivals.

According to Nepal’s Department of immigration, Nepal received 313,512 tourists between January and June 2016. Compared to 2015 -- the year the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck -- these figures look better. But in the same semester the year before the quake, Nepal had 412,461 tourists.

Sarad Pradhan from the Nepal tourism board says, they are now focusing on telling the world that Nepal is save to travel to.

"One of the most affected area was tourism in Nepal. We lost not only the lives, but we lost the jobs of so many people who are involved in tourism. And the tourist arrival dramatically dropped within the very short time. So we faced, especially Nepal's tourism industry, a huge loss in terms of revenue, in terms of tourist arrival, in terms of jobs, so many things," said Sarad Pradhan, Nepal tourism board.

The Nepali government is now concentrating on increasing arrivals from neighbouring countries – China and India.

"We are trying to pursue the Chinese and Indian tourists to come back because they are the one who can come easily to Nepal and we have very good access toa these countries also. Flight connection are good for both countries," Sarad Pradhan said.

Nepal has witnessed political instability in recent months too, with violent protests breaking out. This also doesn't help.

The government says restoring damaged monuments will take time as conservation norms have to observed. But Nepal, of course home to Mount Everest, continues to offer stunning scenery and is a trekker's delight, something officials are reminding holidaymakers.

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