Bhaktapur ends tragic year on optimistic noteWhen Bhaktapur opened up for tourists after last April’s earthquake on June 12, only 20 tourists visited the ancient city in the first month, recalls Damodar Suwal, the local tourist information officer.
When Bhaktapur opened up for tourists after last April’s earthquake on June 12, only 20 tourists visited the ancient city in the first month, recalls Damodar Suwal, the local tourist information officer.
It was a difficult period for the residents who, still shaken by one of the worst calamities in the country’s history, were trying to regain normalcy in their life so much dependent on international tourists who drive the city’s economy.
It took over four months for the city’s tourism business to stir up from the lull, says Suwal.
“For the first time in the month of October, Bhaktapur was visited by 7,500 tourists and then from the next month the number of visitors started to grow,” said Suwal.
Around 60,000 tourists have visited Bhaktapur since the devastating earthquake and the authorities project that by the end of this fiscal year around 100,000 tourists would have visited the city.
According to the Tourist Information Centre of Bhaktapur, the number of visitors in the last two months of February and March registered an encouraging growth, 85,000 and 12,000 respectively.
“Of course, these figures do not compare with the previous years, but they are definitely encouraging indicators,” Suwal said. “The people are optimistic about the future of this city.”
Cultural expert Om Dhaubhadel is one of the optimists. “Some of the city’s iconic temples and monuments suffered great damages, but that has not hurt the culture of Bhaktapur,” he said.
Bhaktapur is currently celebrating the annual Bisket Jatra, a nine-day festival which is already attracting many tourists to the city. The city has already opened its doors to visitors.