PALO ALTO, Calif. -- A delegation of Nepalese tourism officials
wrapped up its promotional tour of the U.S. -- a trip that took an
unexpected turn when the news broke that the country's crown prince
went on a murder rampage, killing family members before killing
The message became one of assuring travelers that all is well in
Nepal, said Pradeep Raj Pandey, chief executive officer of the
Nepal Tourism Board.
The grief-stricken nation's mourning turned violent in the
aftermath of the murders of several royal family members, but the
country's unrest has subsided, Pandey said in an interview before
he addressed the South Bay chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel
Association, the last stop on the two-week trip.
"It is safe to travel to Nepal," he said, calling the State
Department's public announcement urging U.S. citizens to avoid
travel to Nepal "unfair."
"Tourists, even during the protests, were never in danger," he
said. "The travel advisory should not be given much weight."
Last year, some 42,000 Americans visited Nepal, and prior to the
royal murders, the tourism board was expecting to break that record
But Pandey said now he expects a slight drop.
However, the tourism industry's hope is that those people who
canceled trips -- he did not know the numbers -- will rebook for
travel in the fall, which is the peak season for travel from the
U.S. to the Himalayan country.
"We're crossing our fingers that there will not be a long-term
impact," he said.
Pandey traveled with nearly a dozen major ground operators from
Nepal on a swing through the U.S. He was told the news of the
murders during a presentation in Baltimore.
Pandey said the delegation considered canceling the rest of the
trip but decided to continue because "it would not have given [the
U.S. travel industry] a good message if we had panicked and gone
The board, which operates on a $1.5 million budget, was formed
two years ago and is funded both by the government and private
Among the projects being advanced by the board is one in which
tourists stay in Nepalese homes.