As Nepal continues the long effort of dealing with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck the country over the weekend, more travel companies are offering assistance and releasing updates about conditions in the area.
The Daily Telegraph reports that many of the historic sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including local temples and Newar town houses dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, remain intact. The landmark Bhimsen Tower, however, has collapsed, and Pashupatinath, the most important Hindu shrine in the country, has also suffered partial damage. The historic towns of Bhaktapur and Pathan have both suffered heavy damage.
Many hotels in the capital have also been damaged, the Telegraph said, including the facade and ballroom of the Yak and Yeti Hotel, as well as guesthouses in the Thamel area.
In an interview with the New York Times, UNESCO official Irina Bokova said that she was unaware of any modern natural disaster that had damaged so much cultural heritage.
“Nobody is really able to do this — the government not, Unesco not, so I think all have to work together,” Christian Manhart, the head of Unesco’s office in Katmandu, said to the Times. “There are thousands of sites, and we cannot put a policeman or military on each of the sites 24 hours a day. They are needed for other purposes. So it’s impossible, as you can imagine.”
The Katmandu Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Travel Updates and Donation Opportunities
Tour operators and industry organizations are continuing to issue updates on the relief effort and their operations in the area.
"WildChina tours to Tibet and Bhutan remain unaffected after the recent earthquake which rocked Nepal on April 25," WildChina Travel said in a release. "We reached out to our local partners in the neighboring Himalayan regions of Bhutan and Tibet immediately after the 7.8 magnitude quake hit and are glad to report that they are safe and unharmed. WildChina wishes to express our deepest sympathies for the families and communities stuck by the disaster.
"Bhutan has remained completely unaffected structurally by the quake and all WildChina trips will run as usual. No travel warnings have been issued by the US or UK governments for Bhutan. Tremors may be felt at times from stronger aftershocks, however there are no major risks. We will remain on high alert and cease operations immediately if any potential dangers arise.
"The south-western border region of Tibet and Nepal has been affected by landslides and major cross-border roads are closed. No standard WildChina itineraries are affected and we will continue to operate trips to Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake and Gyantze as usual. However customized journeys, including Everest Base Camp and Nepal cross-border visits are suspended until further notice. No travel warnings have been issued by the US or UK governments for Tibet."
Meanwhile, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has announced it will partner with Tourism Cares on an effort to raise funds for relief in the country. Companies and individuals from all over the world may make a donation to the fund. The fund will garner financial investments and work directly with Nepal’s tourism leaders to assist in prioritizing resources for recovery.
“Your ASTA family is here by your side, and we want to help you get through this very difficult time,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA president and CEO in a statement announcing the decision. “We realize your first priority is assisting friends and family. But we want to help.” ASTA is contributing to the fund, and urges others in the industry to consider a donation to this worthy cause.
To learn more about the Tourism Cares Nepal Recovery Fund, or to make a donation, visit TourismCares.org/nepalrecovery.
Asia Transpacific Journeys has also set up a relief fund through its Asia Transpacific Foundation 501C3 nonprofit. Those interested can make a donation at www.asiatranspacific.com/giving-back/nepal-earthquake.aspx, or by mail with a check payable to:
Asia Transpacific Foundation
2995 Center Green Court
Boulder, CO 80301
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has also launched a preliminary emergency appeal to help the Nepal Red Cross Society deliver assistance to 75,000 people affected by the earthquake.
The appeal will allow the Red Cross Red Crescent to provide critical, life-saving support, such as emergency shelter and basic household items, emergency health and care, including psychosocial support, livelihoods support, dignified burials and restoring family links services.
For more information visit www.ifrc.com.
Finally, G Adventures continues its Nepal relief fund, which as of press time stands at more than $85,000 raised out of its newly expanded goal of $100,000. G Adventures had raised the goal from $75,000 after reaching tha milestone in 36 hours, promising to match the additional $25,000 in donations.