Landslide characteristics and its impact on tourism for two roadside towns along the Kathmandu Kyirong Highway

Susmita Dhakal, Peng Cui*, Chandra Prasad Rijal, Li-jun Su, Qiang Zou, O. Mavrouli, Chun-hao Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Frequent landslide events affect the Kathmandu Kyirong Highway (KKH), one of the most strategic Sino-Nepal highways, with multiple social effects. Amongst them, the impacts on local tourism, although being substantial, have not been studied so far. The aim of this research is to analyze the characteristics of such landslides and their influence on road damages and/or blockages as well as on local tourism industry. We analyzed the co-seismic landslides triggered by the Gorkha Earthquake, 2015 (7.8 Mw), the post-seismic landslides that occurred during the monsoons following the earthquake, as well as landslides which occurred or reactivated in 2018, with relation to the damage that they caused to the highway. High resolution satellite images from 2015 to 2018, and field data were used for the analysis. The Langtang avalanche that locates off the highway was also mapped due to its high impacts on tourism. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of road damaging landslides in the Betrawati-Rasuwagadhi section of KKH (where Dhunche and Syafrubesi towns are located) was 101 in the main track (MT) and 103 in the new track (NT), with respective average density of 1.46/km and 3.63/km. The dominant observed landslide types were debris slides and rock falls. Landslides were mostly concentrated in the locations with the following characteristics: 1) having higher elevated area, 2) being located with the ‘main central thrust’ and other lineaments’ belts, 3) belonging to the Proterozoic lesser Himalayan rocks, 4) having a slope gradient of 25°–45°, 5) having northern, western and southern slope aspect, 6) being subjected to average annual rainfall of higher than 1,000 mm, and 7) having less than 4 km distance from the past earthquake epicenters. The results further indicated that 7 rain-induced and 4 co- and post-seismic landslides have great impact on tourist flows. An impact analysis was also assessed through a door to door questionnaire survey with local hotel operators from Dhunche and Syafrubesi towns (n = 29 + 31). The results reveal that out of six rigorously affected sectors by landslides leading to road blockage, tourism business is the most impacted livelihood sector in these towns. The reduction of visitors in different hotels ranged from 50%–100% in Dhunche and 70%–100% in Syafrubesi for the first year aftermath of the tremor. This is higher than the respective 5%–50% tourist reduction due to rain-induced landslides. Using as a reference the base year 2014, the income loss of hotels in both towns was found to be 50%–100% in 2015, 20%–100% in 2016, 5%–75% in 2017, and similar to 35% in 2018. These results provide insights on the synergic effect of contributing factors for cut slope as well as down slope instability along mountainous motorways and their impact on income sources for local communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1840-1859
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of mountain science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020



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