On April 25, 2015, a strong 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, killing almost 9,000 people. This catastrophe wreaked havoc on the country’s tourism industry, as well as many others. Mountain expeditions, including Mt. Everest, have been canceled. Tourists from Kathmandu Valley and its environs, including Rasuwa’s Langtang, Gorkha, and the epicentre, had almost immobilized Nepal.
Nepal was represented as a dangerous destination for international travelers during the height of the natural disaster. There was a narrative in the world media that Nepal’s tourism was collapsing, with no secure spots to visit. East Nepal, on the other hand, was mostly spared the devastating earthquake and its aftershocks. As a result, the phrase “Green East” was coined.
Basudev Baral, a tourism activist and entrepreneur from Dharan, a major tourist destination in East Nepal, created the name. “The earthquake was a calamity in central Nepal, but it had little impact elsewhere,” said Basudev Baral, a Dharan-based tourist operator. “We used the tragedy to promote East Nepal as a tourism destination, which had previously been overlooked by Nepal’s tourism administration, as tourism was predominantly pushed in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lumbini, and Chitwan.”
Baral and other tourism specialists moved to the Indian states of West Bengal and Sikkim to lure international visitors.
On August 8, 2015, they set out on a promotional trip to India. A 15-member team led by Sunsari Tourism Promotion Committee chair Shivaraj Shrestha visited West Bengal’s Siliguri, Sikkim’s Gangtok, and West Bengal’s Darjeeling. They arrived in Siliguri on August 8th, Sikkim on August 9th, and Darjeeling on August 11th. They spoke with tourist officials and professionals in the area.
‘It appears to me to be unique in that most of them have little knowledge about neighboring tourist destinations in Nepal, which is our tourism promoting travel to neighboring Indian states,’ Alina Magar said. “They primarily discussed faraway tourist spots such as Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lumbini, and Chitwan. They were impressed when we showed them certain spots in East Nepal.”
According to Magar, several Indian visitors to Nepal in the past have reported frequent problems with both the police and the general population.
A team from East Nepal arrived in India 100 days after the earthquake in Nepal. The headline in the Indian daily newspaper ‘The Statesman’ read, ‘Hit hard by April earthquake, Nepal turns to the east to reinvigorate tourism business.’ ’ “As Nepal marks the 100th day after a devastating earthquake struck several parts of the country, including Kathmandu,” it said, “the government of the neighboring country has prepared a comprehensive plan to revive the tourism industry.”
The ‘Green East’ concept and the ‘East Nepal Travel Year 2017′
The phrase “Green East” was coined by Basudev Baral for two reasons, according to him. To begin offering area package tours, and to promote East Nepal’s underutilized tourism features.
“Tourism needs professionalism, yet this location lacks access, infrastructure, and public participation.” We’ll need a standard trip package. “These elements resulted in ‘Green East’ in East Nepal,” Baral explained. He emphasized the importance of the ‘Green East,’ which encompasses almost all key spots along the road from Sunsari to Ilam to Taplejung, including the plains, mid-hills, and Himalayas.
According to Baral, it includes a variety of packages, ranging from Sunsari’s Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve to Ilam’s opulent tea garden to Taplejung’s Pathibhara and Himalayas. “We were pleased with the minor rise in Indian travelers as a result of our promotional tour,” Baral said, “but the arrival was not as expected.”
In 2015, tourism industry professionals organized the ‘East Nepal Visit Year 2017′. Unfortunately, due to a lack of thorough preparations by tourism experts and enough financial assurance from sponsors and key governmental bodies, it did not take place.
The post-pandemic tourism boom – the concept of ‘Green East.’
Despite the fact that it was founded in 2015, tourism entrepreneur Basudeb Baral believes that ‘Green East’ can be useful again in the event of a pandemic.
“The concept of a ‘Green East’ was conceived in the aftermath of the 2015 seismic calamity, and it might be utilized to resurrect tourism after a pandemic,” Baral explained. He stated, “We need this program again because it incorporates all of Province 1’s significant tourism locations.” In comparison to 2015, when infrastructure and hotels were still being created, the future ‘Green East’ program will benefit from black-topped motorways and expanding hotels.”
‘Green East,’ according to Baral, is a tourism initiative that encompasses all East Nepal sites that now have adequate infrastructure and accessibility. The Sagarmatha and Makalu-Barun National Parks, the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, and the beautiful green tea plantations of Ilam, Bhedetar, Tamor, and Arun, he said, are all natural treasures in East Nepal.
“We are unable to offer simple travel packages to all of these sites to our customers.” We can, however, plan excursions to regions with adequate infrastructure and accessibility. For this, we have ‘Green East,” Baral explained.
Tourism businesses like Baral are ecstatic that the Dharan local government has seized control of the “Green East” tourism promotion initiative in East Nepal. “We take tourism very seriously; we have our own local tourism committee, we have published several travel brochures, and we have online travel materials about Dharan and the surrounding area,” said Kishor Thulung, Deputy Co-coordinator of the Dharan Tourism Promotion Committee.