Nepal has removed quarantine requirements for visitors who have got both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, a move aimed at boosting pandemic-depressed travel and tourism business.
Tourism Minister Bhanubhakta Dhakal told the Post on Friday that the decision to remove quarantine requirements for such foreign tourists was taken by Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
“The new guideline to visit Nepal will be implemented soon,” said Dhakal.
Last week, the Tourism Ministry had proposed removing quarantine requirements for travelers who have received both doses of the vaccine and resume the on-arrival visa at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
It is, however, not clear whether the Cabinet has approved the ministry’s plan to resume issuing on-arrival visas at the airport.
Taranath Adhikari, the spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, said that they were yet to receive a copy of the Cabinet decision.
“We will make the details public once we receive the copy of the decision,” Adhikari told the Post. “As per the proposal, tourists coming to Nepal have to submit documentation or cards as proof that they have been vaccinated.
Tourists are also required to take a PCR test on the fifth day of hotel quarantine at their own expense, and they will be allowed to go on their expedition or trek if they test negative.
Dhananjay Regmi, chief executive officer of the Nepal Tourism Board, said that the removal of quarantine requirements is, actually, an announcement that Nepal is open and normal now.
“The experience of some of the countries shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible. We have been through a lot of pressure in the past 12 months, and we are all hoping for a safe resumption of travel in Nepal.”
According to Regmi, the Tourism Board is participating in the 28th edition of the South Asian Trade and Travel Exchange Expo (SATTE), one of the largest travel trade shows in the subcontinent, that will be held at India Expo Mart, Delhi on March 24. This is the first travel event to be held after a year.
“We have started formal promotional activities abroad after nearly a year,” he said.
Nepal’s heavily tourism-based economy struggled in 2020 as the country saw a massive revenue fall. The pandemic resulted in tens of thousands of jobs lost as well.
According to the statistics of the Department of Immigration, only 230,085 foreign tourists visited Nepal last year, about the same number that came in 1986. Most of them arrived before the country imposed entry restrictions on March 20.
The year 2021 started on a disappointing note. Nepal received less than 9,000 foreign visitors in January. The disappointment continued in February with 9,146 arrivals, a steep 87.6 percent year-on-year drop, battering the local economy.
Nepal hopes to see travellers return to the country this spring that runs from March to May-end and is considered the peak tourist season. It is the only time when there is a window to climb Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.