Following Nepal’s revised immigration entry protocol, tourists can now get visas on arrival and those fully vaccinated against Covid with the second dose 14 days before the date of travel, will no longer have to quarantine after landing in Kathmandu. In addition to vaccine certificates and a negative PCR test report, visitors also need to fill out an electronic form.
Some travellers did come back in the spring of 2021 after the government relaxed the lockdown. But it was not enough to revive local economies. “We got some 300 tourists who were here to climb Everest,” says Pemba. “It didn’t help much with the income as much as it created fear of the virus with some patients at the base camp.”
Back in Phakding, independent travelers have started to trickle in, but there is also a new phenomenon of Nepali trekkers who are exploring their country in ever larger numbers after the lockdowns.
In fact, most trekkers these days in the lodges of Phakding are Nepali. Pemba is regaining some of his cheerfulness and hope for the future. He says: “Things are starting to get better even if marginally, tourists are returning. I might be able to build a new house for my parents after all.”