Travellers go to Nepal mostly because of its adventure tourism, ecotourism and religious and heritage sites. Tourism is the largest industry in the country as well as the largest source of foreign exchange and revenue. Eight out of the ten highest mountains in the world are located in Nepal, including the world-famous Mount Everest. These mountains are where the bulk of Nepal’s tourism comes from.
But last April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, which killed more than 7,000; more than 10,000 injured, more than 160,000 homes destroyed and another 143,000 infrastructures damaged. Statistics from Nepal’s tourist police says that a total of 57 foreigners have been killed, and 109 are still missing, including 12 Russians and nine Americans.
Weeks had passed, rescuers are still in search for missing people and still look for survivors on what was left in the massive devastation of the earthquake. While many of the survivors in Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, who lost their homes have been living out in the open because of fear that aftershocks would still continue to bring down buildings to the ground and bury them alive.
Then on May 12, another 7.3 magnitude earthquake shook the country, killing 42 people more and injuring more than a thousand. People flee outside the buildings as the first earthquake and aftershocks had already weakened their ground establishments.
Other countries have already made relief efforts to Nepal, however distribution has been difficult because road access is limited especially in remote villages, plus it is still unsafe due to debris, altitude and the current weather conditions. Airport is also temporarily closed. There have been reported cracks on the runway and the airport has a limited capacity to handle large planes that carry aid supplies, food, medicines, and rescue and humanitarian workers.
The disaster that hit Nepal recently, not only affects the tourism industry but the whole of the country’s economy. The damage is extensive; it may take years for its recovery. It is estimated to cost at $1 billion to $10 billion. While, the cost for reconstruction is forecasted to exceed to $5 billion.
Travellers are already leaving the country, and others have already cancelled their trips. Tourist sites have been destroyed, and many of the hotels in the capital have also been damaged. Roads are mostly impassable and other infrastructures are fragile. Major disruptions in telecommunications, transport and other essential services continue. Trekking in the mountains will also be hit because of the risks of avalanche and landslides as aftershocks still occur. It is also most likely that diseases could spread, as dead bodies are still left buried on the ground and on the rubbles, as well as there is lack of clean water and there are shortages of food supplies. Healthcare is also limited.
With Nepal’s current situation, travellers are advised to postpone any non-essential travel or at least reconsider your need to travel to the country to avoid the risks brought by the aftermath of the earthquake. If already in Nepal, exercise caution and seek assistance to tour operators, airlines, or your insurance companies on departure options. If you are unable to obtain safe transport back to your home country, find a safe place to shelter, stay in a group, and remain in contact with family or friends and contact the Embassy in Kathmandu.
For those who want to donate or send their relief, it is recommended to forward your help to valid aid organisations with a presence in Nepal. These groups can effectively deliver assistance on the ground and can surpass the challenges and variable circumstances that can be encountered during the relief distribution. So that you can also be assured that your donations can reach the survivors.