“The only thing holding the country together, it often seems, is the strength, humor
and tenacity of the Nepali people themselves” said Jeff Greenwald, the California-based journalist and author of “Shopping
for Buddhas: An Adventure in Nepal,” one
of his three books set in the country.
While I had seen just a glimpse of Nepal
and its hospitable people during my too-brief, one-week visit, Greenwald has considered it a second home for 30 years.
“This disaster tears at the roots of their
society and will be very challenging to overcome,” Greenwald said.
The staggering numbers that describe the
toll, complemented by graphic photos, have
filled international media in much the same
way as other natural disasters that have
rocked our planet in the recent past.
As of late last week, Nepal officials estimated that the earthquake had claimed
more than 5,000 lives, and that number
is expected to double as cleanup and triage operations continue. It also destroyed
70,000 homes, left more than 10,000 people
injured and 200,000 homeless. It left 1 million children in need of critical care and
triggered an avalanche that killed 19 people
( 14 of them Sherpas) on Mount Everest.
Best estimates suggest that some 8 mil-
lion of the country’s 29 million population
have been affected.
“Aside from the human tragedy,” Green-
wald reminded me last week, “there’s a cul-
tural disaster to contend with, as well.”
Nepal, specifically Kathmandu and the
Kathmandu Valley, have
one of the world’s highest
concentrations of Unesco
World Heritage Sites. Kathmandu, Patan
and Bhaktapur are each anchored by a Dur-
bar (Royal) Square at their heart, studded
with centuries-old palaces and multitiered
temples, many of which are now in rubble.
There is still no word about whether or
when any of those treasures can be rebuilt.
On top of that, there is a constant threat
Continued from Page 1
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Many of Nepal’s famed tourists destinations, like the Mount Everest region,
Pokhara, Mustang and Mount Annapurna,
were spared much of the devastation that
ripped through Kathmandu and the area
near the epicenter.
By Johanna Jainchill
After a massive earthquake ripped through
Nepal, leaving a death toll of more than
5,000 people as of April 30, the travel industry rushed to locate and repatriate any
guests who were in the country at the time,
then paused to consider the future of tourism in a the battered nation.
Yeti Holidays, G Adventures, and Abercrombie & Kent were among the tour operators with groups in Nepal at the time of
earthquake. All their guests and staff were
reported to be safe.
G Adventures, as of press time, had canceled its Nepal departures through May 31,
while Yeti had canceled everything for the
next two weeks.
Allianz Global sent an airplane to Nepal
to evacuate hundreds of its policyholders,
including 35 Americans.
Dan Durazo, Allianz Global’s director of
communications, said the travel insurance
company had heard from most customers
that they were not injured but needed assistance getting out of the country.
Allianz, which sent a medical team to
help tourists and locals alike, was among
many travel companies that set up fund-raising initiatives or sent aid and personnel
directly to Nepal.
Tourism Cares announced the creation
of the Nepal Recovery Fund, focused on the
long-term challenges that will face Nepal’s
tourism industry, which Tourism Cares
said had contributed 500,000 jobs and
8.2% of gross domestic product to the impoverished country’s economy, with strong
The fund will be used in consultation
with local industry leaders.
One notable contribution to the Tourism Cares fund came from the Travel Corporation and its TreadRight Foundation,
which donated $20,000. Some companies,
including Globus and Valerie Wilson Travel,
are matching employee contributions. For
more information about Tourism Cares’
efforts, visit www.tourismcares.org/Nepal
(For the growing list of
travel industry members offering assistance in Nepal’s
recovery, visit www.Travel
Several operators said they anticipated
being able to return to Nepal within a few
months, noting a majority of the most popular tourists areas were relatively unharmed.
Jeff Bonaldi, founder of the Explorer’s
Passage tour company, which did not have
any tours in the country at the time of the
quake, said he did not anticipate having to
cancel future trips centered around Mus-
tang, which can be accessed by flying di-
rectly to Pokhara, west of Kathmandu.
“We are not moving forward with the
June trips until our guides have had an op-
portunity to do extensive walk-throughs
of the itinerary in Pokhara and Mustang
to ensure it is safe,” he said. “The portion
of the itineraries that take
place in Kathmandu will be
altered, given the damage to
World Heritage Sites, which
we typically visit.”
Since Nepal is heading
into its rainy summer season, its low-sea-
son for tourism, several operators are plan-
ing to wait until September to re-evaluate.
Geringer Global Travel, which did not
have any clients in Nepal during the earthquake, is advising clients to postpone travel
to the country until September, after monsoon season.
Daman Pradhan is
In the Hot Seat, P. 4
Author Patricia Schultz with the Crown Prince of Lo
Manthang on her recent visit to Nepal.
In the best of times, arriving at the Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport after an interminable flight from the other side of the world
can feel a lot like time travel. Today, the images coming out of the country suggest it is
chaotic and log-jammed, with tons of relief
and medical supplies arriving from all over
the world, with China and India jockeying
for favorite-neighbor status.
The supplies are urgently needed in remote and isolated villages, many of which
have been flattened and whose access roads,
where any survived, have been blocked by
landslides. Special-strength tents will be
needed to shelter displaced victims from
the monsoon season, just a few weeks away.
In stark contrast, we had stayed in luxurious surroundings, guests of the well-known
Dwarika’s Hotel, eschewing the western
ambience of the city’s Hyatt Regency or
Crowne Plaza for a self-contained world
that exuded local character.
An enclave of traditional
architecture, the award-winning boutique hotel was the passion
of visionary Dwarika Das Shrestha. I was
relieved to hear that it had escaped serious
earthquake damage, as had its new sister
property in the nearby hills outside of town.
Dwarika’s daughter, Sangita Einhaus,
and her staff made sure the hotel’s foreign
guests sleeping in the open courtyard were