Nepal was hit by 2 strong earthquakes in April and May 2015 which left more than 8,000 dead, many injured and a lot of destruction. Photos of death and devastation were shared and it led to a global outpouring of aid and support.
I visited Nepal to support with the disaster relief and recovery efforts, and when I arrived in Kathmandu in June 2015, I was shocked — Unlike other disasters where many structures and infrastructure is destroyed, Kathmandu is business as usual for most of the tourist locations.
In my first day of visit, I visited Pashupatinath Temple, Patan Durbar Square and other important heritage sites, and was surprised at the slight damage. Clearly, there is visible damage to some of the buildings; however, it was a very sharp contrast to what I read about on the news about the earthquake.
The hotels, museums, shops and restaurants were all open. The UNESCO Heritage site is still very impressive to behold. Some of the columns have fallen and there were cracks on some of the walls, but Dunbar Square was still business as usual. Bhimsen Tower in Dharahara is destroyed, but it is the only one I know that is damaged that badly.
After that, I traveled to Thamel, a popular tourist destination and it was as less crowded than before, and then it hit me, there were less tourists.
In a disaster, although it was important to support with the aid efforts, I feel strongly that visiting Nepal will help with the local economy. The International News and media portray a destroyed and devastated country, and looking around me in Kathmandu, life was back to normal.
14 districts in Nepal was badly affected by the earthquakes, leaving many homeless, however, many parts of Kathmandu and popular tourist destinations like Pokhara were spared. It is easy to forget that earthquakes destroy buildings but not nature.
It is important that tourists return to Nepal as Tourism is very important to the already fragile Nepal economy. Instead of donating money to Nepal, one very tangible way of supporting Nepal is to visit Nepal.
In Nepal, the hotels are cheap, food is cheap. You can easily live on a $10 budget a day for food. Nepal has numerous UNESCO heritage sites to visit. So, why not support the economy in Nepal by visiting this incredible place. This is an important time because spending in Nepal allows the locals to earn money and repair their homes and cities themselves — with dignity.
— Robin Low
Co-founder of Relief 2.0