Earthquake experts have released an official report based on facts, and have given the green light for treks in the popular Annapurna Region. This makes it much easier to reassure travelers concerned about the safety of trekking in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. A team of earthquake engineering experts of Miyamoto International have completed a risk assessmentof the region and provided an official report for Nepals Ministry of Tourism.
The Miyamoto team surveyed the Annapurna region for damagerelated to the April and May earthquakes and also assessed the safety of the regions trekking routes. Their report also includes recommendations on how to manage potential hazards unrelated to the quakes.The CEO of Miyamoto International, Kit Miyamoto, states that, It appears that the Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary trails in this region are basically undamaged by landslides after the earthquakes.
The assessment began at Pokhara and covered approximately 220 km of trails by helicopter and on foot. The assessment included 31 villages and 30 bridges and 30 villages with 250 accommodations in the Annapurna region.The report states that only three per cent of the accommodations suffered structural damage due to the earthquake, and this mostly in the most eastern part of the Annapurna Circuit, which was the area closest to the epicenter of the Gorkha earthquake. The damaged buildings can be repaired easily as the traditional stone walls can easily be rebuilt with cement. The bridges assessed had no structural earthquake damage.The assessment of trekking trails was divided into six sections: Birethanti to Tukuche, Tukuche to Muktinath, Bhulbhule to Chame, Chame to ThorongPhedi, Birethanti to Bamboo and Bamboo to Annapurna Base Camp.
Four areaswere identified as having a particularly high hazard level due to their existing geo-technical features rather than a result of the earthquake. The four sections areon a two kilometer stretch of trail between Kimrong and Chomrong in the southern part of the Annapurna Sanctuary trail. Alternate routes have been suggested due to the risk of landslides and rock fall. Miyamoto recommends a post-monsoon assessment of the proposed new routes.Annapurna Foothills Treks discourages trekking to the Annapurna Sanctuary during monsoon months when the risk is the highest. Miyamoto also recommended signposts saying “Rockfall Hazard Area” or “Landslide Hazard Area” be placed on the trail at each end of identified section to discourage people from stopping in these areas.
The section of the Annapurna Circuit which involves the high mountain pass of Thorong La was not assessed due to weather constraints. Miyamoto stated that this area which is known to have a risk of landslide and avalanche is not likely to have any added risk related to the earthquake.Tourism is Nepal’s largest source of foreign income and the Annapurna Region, which receives over 110,000 foreign trekkers annually, represents a substantial slice of this income.The drop in number of tourists following the large quakes that rocked Nepal has raised a concern for the country’s faltering economy. The Ministry of Tourism proposed an earthquake damage assessment as an attempt to get concrete facts to present to travelers thinking of visiting Nepal. We hope the positive findings of this report will provide the needed reassurance to travelers considering a visit to Nepal. This official report will make it easier for trekkers to get travel insurance. Miyamoto International will soon publish a safety audit report for the Khumbu Region.
Type of hazard
Cliff collapse hazard
Cliff collapse hazard
Debris flow hazard
Cliff collapse hazard on north side
Rockfall/wedge failure hazard
Machhapuchchhre Base Camp
Some western countries lift travel warnings, issue geo-specific advices
Some countries that had issued negative travel advisories for Nepal immediately after the devastating earthquake of April 25 have lifted the warnings and updated them with geo-specific advices.
United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, the United States, Finland, Italy and New Zealand have recently changed their travel advisory status to a geo-specific advice in line with the UN-World Tourism Organization (UN-WTO)’s code of conduct for travel advisories.
Neighboring India and some other nations like Switzerland and Japan had never issued negative travel advisory for Nepal.
Nepal has been lobbying with the western source countries through their diplomatic missions in Nepal to soften their travel advisories citing that only 15 per cent of the tourist destinations were damaged due to the earthquake.
Negative travel advices issued by western source countries have adversely affected the tourism sector of Nepal, as many of the visitors from the western world have cancelled their trips to Nepal.
The fact that insurance firms would not cover the insurance of people travelling to countries that have been issued negative travel advice had further discouraged people from visiting Nepal, as per Robin Boustead of Great Himalayan Trail Alliance.
The UN-WTO has been repeatedly putting these matters on its agenda and called for governments and media to provide proportional and geo-specific information rather than blanket negative advices. However, many countries have yet to change the travel advices as per the code of conduct of UN-WTO. Many countries, including France, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Poland, are still maintaining negative advisories.
The recent report of European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism regarding travel advisories for Nepal by western countries had advised Nepal to lobby with respective countries that have issued negative travel advices to change the advisories as per UN-WTO’s code of conduct.