KALLABARI, Nepal (AP) — Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon is urging tourists to come to Nepal, where two powerful earthquakes in the last month killed thousands of people and raised concerns that the nation's vital tourism industry could be seriously hurt.
Sarandon is in Nepal for five days, staying with the famed Kung-fu nuns in a Buddhist monastery and later in an orphanage that was damaged in one of the quakes.
"It is important to emphasize that by the fall, when monsoon ends, people should make their reservations now if they want to help and they want to come and visit because it is very, very important to keep all these jobs alive," Sarandon said Sunday while inaugurating a campaign to build 201 huts for villagers outside of the capital, Kathmandu, who lost their homes in one of the earthquakes.
"I think that would be the next wave — to think of Nepal not as an ongoing disaster, but as a country that has found its way back and has many monuments that haven't fallen and many beautiful areas that can be still safe to trek," she said.
A magnitude-7.8 quake struck Nepal on April 25, killing at least 8,490 people. A magnitude-7.3 quake on May 12 killed 158. Nearly 17,000 people were injured in the two temblors.
Nepal — which boasts eight of the world's highest mountains — gets about half a million tourists every year, with many coming to trek the Himalayan nation's scenic mountain trails.
The recent earthquakes have raised fears that tourists will be driven away from Nepal, a poor country where many people depend on tourism for their livelihood.