Nepal’s tourism industry was in for a major setback on Saturday after a massive earthquake caused huge devastation, prompting cancellation of flights from India and requests of ticket cancellation stretching till May end.
"We have received cancellation requests from many of our clients till May end," Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, told IANS.
"We are also in touch with our passengers who are stranded there and are arranging for their accommodation. We are also trying our best to bring them back as soon as we can," he added.
However, bringing these passengers will take some time as the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu has been indefinitely shut after a magnitude 7.9 temblor rocked Nepal just before noon, resulting in the cancellation of all the eight subsequent return flights from India bound for Kathmandu.
The airport, according to aviation officials here, was opened in the evening, but only for non-commercial and relief operations.
Some airlines like SpiceJet said they had been asked by the Indian authorities to keep an aircraft ready to lift supplies from here and bring back stranded passengers.
Sources at the Indira Gandhi International Airport said modifications will be made in the schedules once a clear picture emerges. "We are assessing the situation," an official said.
The earthquake, which had its epicentre in Nepal’s Lamjung district, has left around 1000 people dead and over 1,700 injured till late Saturday evening.
Nepal, home to the birthplace of Lord Buddha and Mount Everest – the highest mountain peak in the world – is popular among trekkers and mountaineers. Apart from that it also has a number of sacred Hindu sites.
According to a Nepal’s ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation report, the country attracted 797,616 tourists in 2013.