After nearly two years of nearly zero tourist arrivals and revenue, Nepal looks set to welcome international tourists again after the government on Thursday introduced revised immigration entry protocols.
Tourists 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 and can get visas on arrival. Earlier, they had to get visas from Nepal’s missions abroad and quarantine for seven days at a hotel in Kathmandu at their own expense.
Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors will have to obtain visas from Nepal’s embassies in their home countries or elsewhere, and will still have to spend 10 days in a government approved hotel in Kathmandu and get a PCR negative test before they go out and about.
Tourists coming via land, except Indians who are visa-exempt, must arrive with their visas from Nepali diplomatic missions and be subject to a negative antigen test at the Chinese or Indian borders.
“The government looked at the current trend of Covid infections, transmission and disease control to reach this decision,” says spokesperson of the Immigration Department Jhanka Nath Dhakal. “Entry of fully vaccinated tourists becomes easier as a lot of additional paperwork can be avoided.”
However, all visitors, including fully vaccinated ones will have to present a negative PCR or other test report done not longer than 72 hours before their flight, and bring a printout of the international arrival form at www.ccmc.gov.np to immigration for visa on arrival.
The new protocols were issued even though the Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) itself does not have legal standing because an ordinance establishing it has lapsed because of the continued political impasse in Parliament.
Nepal’s tourism industry had been lobbying strongly with the government to ease restrictions as the case load and fatalities in Kathmandu drop, and the vaccinate rate goes up in countries from where most visitors come to Nepal. They argued that millions of jobs were at stake, investors were defaulting on loans for hotels, airlines and restaurants and the government was losing the $800 million it used to earn a year from tourism prior to the pandemic.