Following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and 26, the Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has released a statement promoting the return of tourism to the region.
"We have been taking a few days to mourn and do what we can to assist our fellow citizens," said Ashok Pokharel, president of NATO. "This has truly been a dark moment. But in the cold light of day, Nepal and its capital city, Kathmandu, are intact. The people of Nepal are born with a will to overcome adversity."
NATO said that the majority of popular tourist areas escaped the brunt of the earthquake, and that road and air transport links are intact across the country, except for some landslips. Additionally, most hotels and restaurants are back in operation.
Tourism in Nepal is one of the pillars of the economy, NATO said. Many tourists spend directly in the rural areas, avoiding the classic "trickledown" effect.
"The destroyed monuments and cultural sites around the Kathmandu Valley and elsewhere need to be rebuilt, and this will provide employment and create a resurgence in traditional building methods," said Pohkarel. "Therefore, we encourage travelers to come back to Nepal when a suitable time has lapsed for the injured to the treated, the mourning to be completed and the debris to be cleared."
NATO is calling upon the concerned government authorities to step up measures for ensuring tourism activities are able to resume quickly.