Despite killings, Nepal execs continue U.S. tour

CHICAGO -- A dozen Nepalese tourism officials, in the midst of an eight-city tour to meet with U.S. agents and operators, considered aborting their trip when the news broke that the Nepalese crown prince reportedly had killed himself and several family members.

The delegation of hoteliers and tour firm and tourist board officials decided to continue the trip to respond to questions and provide reassurances for the future, said Pradeep Raj Pandey, chief executive officer of the Nepal Tourism Board.

Violent demonstrations and clashes with police in Nepal followed the deaths, but Pandey said he believes the unrest will be short term.

Meanwhile, the State Department issued a public announcement urging U.S. citizens to defer travel to Nepal.

It said demonstrators have disrupted traffic throughout Kathmandu, making travel between the airport and hotels and guest houses "very difficult, if not impossible."

The delegation's discussion among the U.S. trade related only to future business, mostly in the fall. In summer, the rainy season, Pandey said, visitors typically come from India and some from Europe. Americans cluster their visits in the spring and fall, he said.

Nepal attracted nearly 36,000 visitors from the U.S. last year -- 80% through the trade, Pandey said.

About 85% of U.S. arrivals are leisure travelers, and nearly half travel to the Himalayan kingdom for trekking or mountaineering.

Pandey said the delegation's goals were to stress that there is more to Nepal than mountains and to lure Americans for cultural activities and summer events.

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