Bookings for Nepal are higher this year than they were before the earthquake that killed 21 people two years ago.
Nearly 9,000 people were injured in the 7.8 magnitude quake, which left trekking trails unpassable and much of the tourism industry in tatters.
Two years on from the April 25 2015 disaster, UK operators now say Nepal bookings are higher than beforehand and say it is in part down to the help of the tourism industry as well as the resilience of the Nepalese people.
Intrepid Travel has seen bookings to Nepal rise 70% globally, and at a similar rate in the UK, compared to last year. This follows a 2016 that was 20-30% down because of the impact of the earthquake.
Michael Edwards, regional director for the UK and Europe, said: “Nepal is outstripping growth because of the awareness raised. We have put extra resources into promoting the country, but the response from customers has been amazing.”
Intrepid raised US$400,000 via an appeal in the 24 hours after the earthquake and donated its profits last year – of US$350,000 – towards helping rebuild the country, repairing damage to trails, tea houses on trek routes, schools and putting on workshops for local women’s groups.
“We’ve never had a bigger or quicker response to something,” Edwards added. “It really touched a nerve with people.”
G Adventures has seen a similar bounceback in Nepal bookings, and also took more this year than before the earthquake. It has already booked more 2017 passengers to the country than the entire of 2016 and bookings are up 62% on 2016. Its Everest Base Camp Trek and Delhi to Kathmandu Yolo Adventure are the most popular tours.
To help bookings to Nepal, G Adventures flew a local chief experience officer over to the UK to tell travel agents how important tourism was to the country’s recovery.
Managing director Brian Young said: “Nepal’s return has been phenomenal and we’d like to thank agents for their support. So confident are we in Nepal’s growth, we have launched a new Local Living Nepal trip for 2017.”
Kuoni, which launched its new Nepal brochure last week, said it has “recovered” and Travel 2 has added Nepal for the first time for 2017, due to agent demand.