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The government has reopened most of the cultural heritage sites that were damaged by the earthquake of April 25 in its efforts to lure back foreign tourists to the country.
Six of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites closed after the quakes have reopened from Monday. Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa announced reopening of the sites at a function organized at Bhaktapur Durbar Square on Monday morning.
The UNESCO World Heritage sites which reopened for tourists from Monday are Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Swoyambhunath Stupa and Bouddhanath Stupa. Changu Narayan Temple will open after some time as the temple complex has suffered significant damage.
Issuing a statement, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) said access has been restricted in certain areas to ensure safety precautionary measures and to preserve valuable arts and artifacts there.
Speaking at the program, Minister Sherpa said the government would urge tourists to come to Nepal for holiday to help rebuild the country.
Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of Department of Archaeology (DoA), said that measures have been taken to ensure that tourists are safe, and that there are plans to provide safety helmets for visitors in some places.
The program was also attended by Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Man Shrestha, Director General of Department of Tourism Tulasi Prasad Gautam, Executive Board Members of Nepal Tourism Board Rajendra Sapkota and Ghanendra Shrestha, high government officials, president of tourism related associations and prominent tourism personalities among others.
"The reopening of World Heritage Monuments in Kathmandu Valley gives a positive message to the world that Nepal is back to business and is waiting for tourists to welcome them. Unlike in many parts of the world, the Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley are a part of day-to-day life of its people. Rituals, tradition, festivals and culture starting from birth to death are centered on these places. Therefore, these sites are living museums signifying the essence of life in Kathmandu Valley, as it has been through the centuries," the statement added.
Out of 75 districts of Nepal, only 11 districts were hit by the earthquake. Chitwan, Pokhara, Lumbini, Bardia, Annapurna, Everest, eastern region and far west region of Nepal also escaped damage, and are ready for business. Among the 19 protected areas, only three were affected, according to the statement.