Nepal travel advisories post-earthquake

After the two months of Nepal earthquake, some countries have finally eased travel advisories to Nepal.
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Immediately atfer the earthquake Many strict travel advisors and many government discouraged travel by nationals to Nepa. And this affected the coat of insurance to travellers.

New Zealand updated its travel warning and others followed suit this week, including the UK and US. Although the advisories still caution against travel to Nepal, and especially to some of the earthquake hit areas, tourists are no longer warned about transiting Kathmandu on their way to Bhutan or Tibet.

Much of the monsoon arrivals to Nepal are tourists travelling to those two areas, as well as parts of Nepal in the rainshadow like Mustang and Dolpo which were not affected by the quake. Tour operators are happy about the updated advisories amidst gloom and doom about the prospects for autumn and spring 2016.

The US had a travel warning alert to Nepal, which was updated 2 July is more toned down. The advisory which discouraged any unnecessary travel to Nepal previously, now only specifies certain districts and advises tourists to exercise caution in those places.

Similarly, the UK also updated its notice on Wednesday which says: ‘The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) no longer advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Nepal’. The advisory now focuses on Central Nepal and the Everest area, where some trails are damaged.

Although areas like Mustang and Manang, which haven’t been affected are also still mentioned in the districts where travel is not advised. Travel on the main highway from Kathmandu to Pokhara is exempted from the advice.

Jo Chaffer of KE Adventure Travel said: “Bookings are slow for this time of year, but many of our customers are keen to go to Nepal in the autumn. the country is gettingback to normal.”

More than 80 per cent of the Japanese tourists who made reservations for Nepal to visit in the autmn have not cancelled, according to Sonia Miyahara of the Japanese tour group, Himalaya Kanko Kaihatsu.

The Nepali group Samarth has commissioned a study by the international engineering company Miyamoto to bring out a report on the condition of the Annapurna and Everest trails, Nepal’s most popular. The report, expected next week, is expected to say that while there is some damage, the trails could be safe by the time the autumn trekking season starts in October.

The report will be critical in further relaxation of travel advisories, diplomats in Kathmandu said they were waiting for independent third-party assessment of safety by firms like Miyamoto. Time is of the essence because local and international tour operators will be finalising bookings for the autumn season over the next two weeks.

Nepal’s tourism industry is trying hard to reassure potential visitors and their governments. Hotels in Kathmandu have been surveyed, with 90% cleared to operate normally, including hotels in heritage buildings, like Patan’s recently restored The Inn. Several trekking agents have already carried out their own surveys while the Nepali organisation Samarth, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, has commissioned a report from specialist earthquake engineering firm Miyamoto to assess Nepal’s two most popular trekking regions, Annapurna and Everest. That report is due in the middle of July. Post-disaster reports suggest 150km of tourist trekking trails suffered significant damage.

Thomas Schrom is an Austrian conservation architect with 20 years’ experience in the Himalayas, having worked on the stunning Patan Museum, one of the finest in south Asia, housed in the exquisite Malla-era Keshav Narayan Chowk palace. “Here in Patan, it really doesn’t look too bad,” he says. “The collapsed temples have been cleaned up and the remnants stored. The square is open to visitors and so is the Patan Museum.” Recently developed methods for seismic strengthening, he says, have made a big difference.

Nepal has a reputation for being the ultimate destination for the adventurous and, as Gordon Steer says: “There’s always some risk attached. But the country has the biggest, most exciting mountains in the world coupled with the most wonderful culture. The people you meet along the way are incredible and you learn so much. It’s the best trekking on earth.”

Advisories letest updates:

UK
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nepal

US
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/nepal-travel-warning.html

Canada
http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/nepal

New Zealand
https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/nepal

Australia
http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Nepal

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