Monday, August 24, 2015

Recovering from the quake

Photo by: Rocky Prajapati
Every century, with a cycle of around 80 years, a devastating earthquake shakes up the two continental plates below Nepal, jolting all life above it. With each repetition, buildings collapse, lives are lost, and normalcy turns upside down for a while.

Yet every time it happens, the country comes together, gets stronger, and works harder to build back. And build back it does. Better, stronger and more resilient. This has been proven time and again.

The two major earthquakes of 25th April and 12th May caused widespread damage in some districts in Nepal, no doubts about that. That was the earthquake doing its thing.

The reaction of the people, considered to be one of the best crisis managers in the world, was extraordinary. Before the government or international aid could kick in, the youth, business-people, monks, nuns, schools, colleges all started to work in relief, and before anything had even arrived in Nepal in terms of aid, had conducted an astounding amount of relief runs, mobilising funds and resources and moving tons upon tons of relief into areas that needed it.

In the far flung villages, the youth had dug up bodies, cremated them, and had started on emergency shelters within a few days already, conditioned by centuries of living in isolated small valleys and knowing how to be self-sufficient.

This strength and resilience is something worth experiencing, the nature of this incredible mix of over 100 ethnic groups living in this stretch of land that is Nepal, nestled between giants of China and India, never colonised and never conquered.

In tourism, the reaction was similar. First priority was getting everyone home safe, so rescue missions were organised to get stranded travellers out of the way. After that, companies started looking after their own - staff, guides, porters etc who needed help. After that the industry rallied together to start a recovery process, running as we write and which has developed into a very unique industry led initiative thats taking the lead in turning the tourism of this country for the better. An understanding of this process and the participation in it, can change ones understanding of how an industry should react in disasters of this magnitude.

At socialtours, we are working hard on several aspects of the recovery process

  1. Leading an industry initiative to recover tourism through engaging in designing of mitigating strategies and actions to back it up. A big positive results of this has become the new recovery website endorsed by the government . We urge all partners to also endorse this, as this is beneficial for the one voice that is required to drive customers to buy trips again. 
  2. Developing post quake recovery products that are experiences that encompass what we have described above. Most of our trips have already become relevant in the recovery process, as travellers can now meet survivors, relief workers and real champions in order to understand how a country responds to something like this. This is a strong promise and in Nepal NOW easy to deliver. We ourselves are survivors and socialtours alone has organised and is implementing over 50,000 USD worth of relief works and we continue to do so since day one. 
  3. Initiating confidence building campaigns like the I AM IN NEPAL NOW and I AM GOING TO NEPAL campaigns that are viralling on social media. 
  4. Finding ways to make the travellers in this two year window feel even more welcome, sometimes things as little as finding out which room is allocated and leaving a nice note for them.  

Together in Tourism!


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