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BHAKTAPUR, Nepal – The government has reopened five of the seven Unesco-designated World Heritage Sites to the public in an attempt to lure back foreign tourists.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath temple and Bouddhanath stupa, which were closed after the magnitude 7.9 earthquake on April 25, were reopened for tourists on Monday.
The government opened these sites in less than two months, immediately after removing rubbles, in hope that foreigners come to visit the sites.
“Its not just Kathmandu valley, entire Nepal is open for tourists,” said Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Kripasur Sherpa, addressing a function to mark the official reopening of Bhaktapur Durbar Square where hundreds of people gathered to witness traditional dancers and musicians on Monday. “Nepal is safe to travel,” he added.
More than half a million tourists visited Nepal last year. Two other sites–Changu Narayan temple and Swayambhunath–would be opened shortly, according to officials.
Last week, Unesco had raised concerns over safety around the heritage sites, asking the public to be extra cautious at the sites.
The officials have, however, assured that security will be in place, tourists will be given guided tours and signboards will indicate specified routes to cause minimal disturbance to structures.
According to the Department of Archaeology, over 700 heritage monuments were destroyed in the earthquakes, which will cost over Rs 12 to rebuild the them and it would take as long as five years to complete all of the reconstruction works.