It is with heavy hearts and great sadness we have watched the tragedy of the Nepal earthquake unfold. All too often natural disasters strike countries that lack the infrastructure, equipment and resources to deal with them.
The earthquake has killed thousands and destroyed the majority of historic UNESCO listed buildings not to mention the numerous people unaccounted for at the foot of Everest. Over the next few weeks news crews from around the world will be flying into Nepal, there will be blanket news coverage, but then what? All too quickly the world will forget about Nepal as the next disaster strikes, or the latest cash crisis hits the EU.
Over the years Natalie and I have witnessed first hand the devastating flow on effect these disaster can have on local communities. I had been in Bali six weeks before the bombings in 2002 and when I returned two years later I found the streets deserted, people who had so heavily relied upon tourism struggling to make ends meet. Natalie was in Koh Pi Pi shortly after the tsunami of 2005, and last year we spent time on the Filipino Island of Malapascua only months after Typhoon Haiyan had ripped through the community (in fact our dive centre had only regained electricity the week before we arrived). For those who follow our blog you will also be aware of our push for people to return to Egypt now the country has settled down.
Ask anyone who has visited Nepal and they will tell you what an amazing place it is. The stunning Himalayan Mountain range towering over the bustling and vibrant Kathmandu Valley. Filled with amazing architecture and incredibly friendly and fascinating people. So what, as the travel community, can we do?
Already there have been some amazing initiatives. Intrepid Travel have set up a Nepal Earthquake Appeal through their Intrepid Foundation as have a number of tour operators who specialise in the area. Most importantly, the travel community cannot forget about Nepal. In the months and years to follow, the country and the people will need us more than ever. The country relies heavily upon tourism, and more than any tin rattle, or petition signing, by encouraging visitors to continue to visit is one of the best ways to help Nepal overcome this tragedy. The country will need tourists more than ever and by not cancelling your travel plans or for those of us who have visited, continuing to promote Nepal to our friends, the travel community can have a positive impact in rebuilding Nepal.
Sadly however, in the meantime we can only hope and pray for the families of the missing and the lost…
Click here to see the comparison of just how much of Nepal’s historic buildings have been destroyed.