Besides destruction, the biggest casualty of the 25 April earthquake was Nepal’s tourism industry. While travel advisories issued during the immediate aftermath were relaxed after a few months, and only 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts were affected by the earthquake, the damage had far-reaching consequences. Hotel reservations until the spring of 2016 have been affected and trekking expeditions postponed or cancelled.
Still, individual travellers can find out which trails are safe, and trekkers have returned to the Everest and Annapurna trails this season, although not in the same numbers as last year. In an effort to hook hikers, the Great Himalaya Trails got four international and two local Instagram influencers (pic, below) to explore renowned destinations within Nepal and share their experiences with followers on the photo-sharing platform.
“Social media has become an effective medium for sharing visual and authentic information on post-earthquake Nepal. By publicising real-time images, tourists and social media influencers can help change the narrative and hopefully restore consumer confidence in the safety of Nepal as a tourism destination,” says Neha Shrestha of Samarth.
Among the group members were Tyler Metcalfe, a photographer and producer with National Geographic, renowned international instagrammers Liz Eswein, Jordan Herschel, Hiroaki Fukuda, and two homegrown photographers, Shikhar Bhattarai and Mohan Duwal.
Credit: Great Himalaya Trails
The 10-day trip took them from one of the most remote regions to one of the most popular holiday destinations within Nepal. Together they traversed the arid mountains and cliffs of Upper Mustang, witnessed the thrilling Yartung Festival in Lo Manthang and explored the tropical jungles of Chitwan National Park.
Photos: Mohan Duwal
With a combined reach of 6.85 million followers, the photos shared from the trip have garnered between 10,000 and 100,000 likes each. The photos were shared using the #MyGHT hashtag on Instagram, and GHT is encouraging other users to do the same to share their Nepal experience.
Photos: Neha Shrestha
“Since the campaign, we have seen a large rise in the number of our followers, positive engagement from local and international audience and the use of our hashtag ,” says Shrestha. Currently, the Great Himalaya Trails Instagram page has over 5,000 followers and showcases showcases the real time trekking experiences, landscape photos and Nepali culture selected from its followers.
Photo: Gopen Rai
The campaign was a collaboration between the Great Himalaya Trails, UK Aid funded Samarth-Nepal Market Development Programme (NMDP) and Yeti Airlines.
With the autumn trekking season here, the industry hopes that this is the best time to promote Nepal’s destinations to international and domestic travelers. GHT is also partnering with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to host ‘AdventureWeek’ in Kathmandu in October, with 20 influential journalists and tour operators from around the world who will go trekking in the Everest and Annapurna regions.
With fierce competition not just from neighbouring countries, great content and its outreach is needed to inspire travelers to visit Nepal. With GHT gearing up on its social media presence, other organisations should follow suit and harness the use of digital platforms to promote Nepal’s countless destinations.
UK Aid funded Samarth-NMDP supports the Great Himalaya Trails (GHT) brand and marketing platforms. Part of this program includes a re-brand of the GHT as a quality and safe network of trails and bringing this brand to life through innovative partnerships.
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