By Shristi Kafle
KATHMANDU, June 17 (Xinhua) — The April 25 and May 12 strong quakes that killed more than 8,700 people and badly damaged 14 districts out of the 75 districts in Nepal has not deterred foreign tourists from visiting the Himalayan nation.
The authorities here lamented that in their converge of the quakes, foreign media organizations highlighted the destruction, collapsed buildings, flattened villages, deaths and debris and paid little attention to the determination of the Nepali people to rise from the disaster and to lure back foreign tourists by showing off their beautiful tourist spots and cultural landmarks.
The authorities also regretted that the foreign media failed to report that the Kathmandu international airport and most airports in the country as well as the major roads have not suffered major damage. Also more than 90 percent of hotels are intact, trekking routes are safe and the tourism spots out of the famous Kathmandu Valley have relatively remained safe despite the two successive quakes.
“It is very sad that there have been more negative rather than positive news about the tragedy disseminated around the world. We want to tell the world that Nepal is safe and we are open for tourists,” Tourism Minister Kripashur Sherpa told the media on Monday.
Trekking and mountain expeditions are the major attractions of adventure tourism in this landlocked country. The government earns revenues amounting to about 3.9 million U.S. dollars annually in climbing fees including 3.5 million U.S. dollars from the world’s highest peak, Mount Qomolangma, alone.
An estimated 800,000 foreign tourists visit Nepal every year, largely from India, China and the European countries.
Besides, the Nepalese people are well known throughout the world for their kindness, friendliness and being courteous since all Nepalese believe in “Atithi Debo Bhawa” which means “Guests are Gods”, their special trait that has endeared them to foreign tourists visiting the country.
In fact, some European tourists, who have earlier canceled their trips to Nepal because of the earthquake, have now rebooked and pushed through with their visit to the country. On Tuesday noon, Xinhua caught up with some European tourists visiting the recently reopened Basantapur Durbar Square, a world heritage site where they recorded in their cameras the damaged monuments and the rubble.
These foreign tourists, who have been here since a week ago, are leaving for a 12-day trek in Annapurna Circuit, one of the classic and best trekking trails in the world. “The Nepalese people are so friendly and nice. Before coming here, I had thought they have lost all reasons to be happy but I was wrong because all around I see smiling faces,” one French tourist said.