KATHMANDU, June 15
The government is opening some cultural heritages sites in Kathmandu Valley for tourists from Monday.
Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Department of Archaeology (DoA) took the decision to this effect after making assessment of heritages sites.
According to officials, the palace complexes of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur, and Swayambunath, Bouddhanath and Pashupatinath will be opened for foreign tourists from Monday.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripashur Sherpa will officially open Bhaktapur Durbar Square on Monday morning and announce the opening of other sites for local and foreign tourists.
Rajendra Sapkota, board member of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said they are opening the only sites which are safe to visit. “We have already assessed the sites,” Sapkota said, adding, “We decided to open the cultural heritage sites for visitors after engineers and technicians declared that these areas are safe.”
Issuing a statement on Thursday, UNESCO had raised concerns on the reopening of Kathmandu Valley’s world heritage sites. “The preliminary assessments had shown that the monuments and sites within the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property – as well as several other cultural and natural heritage sites located in the area – have suffered extensive damage due to the earthquake of 25 April,” the statement said.
Commenting on UNESCO’s statement, Sapkota said they won’t open sites that are vulnerable. “For example, we are not opening Changu Narayan temple for visitors because we cannot assure safety there,” he added.
Tourists, however, will not be allowed to enter into places. According to officials, tourists will be briefed about safety issues before allowing them to enter heritage sites.
“Despite UNESCO’s concern, we had to open heritage sites that are safe because of the pressure from locals. Many locals in and around heritage sites said ban on entry of visitors has affected their livelihood,” he said, adding, “We have also found tourists to visit these sites.”
Debris in the heritage sites that are opening from tomorrow has already been cleared.
“We are hopeful that the opening of some heritage sites will spread the message that we are becoming ready to welcome tourists,” said Sapkota.
The decision to open heritage sites for visitors was taken by the Tourism Recovery Committee (TRC) held under the chairmanship of Tourism Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha on May 25.
National Tourism Recovery Committee formed
The cabinet on Sunday formed a high-level National Tourism Recovery Committee to promote tourism activities in post-disaster situation. According to Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the 36-member committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripashur Sherpa.
The committee comprises of government officials, members from all major tourism related organizations and contributors in the field of tourism. “The committee is a national-level committee and will work to resume tourist activities in the post-disaster situation, collect resources for reconstruction and promotion of tourism, work for reconstruction of damages sites and help in the recovery of industry,” added Sapkota.
Source : myrepublica.com