After nearly 18 months of very few tourists, Nepal has decided to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers with no quarantine on arrival.
On Thursday, the Nepalese government announced it would revise its immigration entry protocols and ditch mandatory quarantine. Previously, visitors had to obtain special permission from Nepalese embassies and quarantine on arrival at their own expense for seven days.
As a result, tourism numbers have dipped considerably in the previous 18 months, causing massive economic harm. Nepal is a popular destination with tourists because of its stunning mountainscape and being home to Mt. Everest.
Members of the tourism industry had criticized the prior entry restrictions as cumbersome, confusing, and detracting potential visitors.
Tourists had to submit NTB or Department of Tourism approved itineraries to obtain a visa and then undergo a mandatory 7-day quarantine on arrival. However, only tourists with well-connected travel agents could get the paperwork.
The New Entry Requirements
If tourists have received their final vaccination dose 14 days before arriving in Nepal, travelers can obtain a visa on arrival (which has stopped since March 2020) and won’t have to quarantine upon arrival.
However, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers will have to obtain special visas from Nepalese embassies in their home countries. Plus, they will still have to undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel in Kathmandu. They’ll also need a PCR test before they go out and explore after undergoing the mandatory quarantine.
Tourists entering via land — except for Indian travelers who are visa-exempt — must arrive with visas from Nepalese embassies in their home nations before arriving. They’ll also have to take an antigen test at the Chinese and Indian borders.
Jhanka Nath Dhakal, the spokesperson for the Immigration Department, stated that “The government looked at the current trend of Covid infections, transmission and disease control to reach this decision. Entry of fully vaccinated tourists becomes easier as a lot of additional paperwork can be avoided.”
The former CEO of the Nepali Tourism Board (NTB), Deepak Raj Joshi said, “The tourism industry is now buoyant, stakeholders are pleased, and demand from potential tourists is massive, so we must aggressively and effectively communicate the return of Nepali tourism into source markets.”
The Current COVID-19 Situation In Nepal
Nepal has witnessed various waves of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. However, cases have now begun to decline as the vaccination rate rises. The highest case number was in May, when the 7-day average peaked at just under 9,000 cases. Today, the 7-day average is down to just 971.
Nepal has currently fully vaccinated around 21 percent of its entire population after administering a total of 12,015,633 vaccine doses. At the current vaccination rate, it will take another 51 days to vaccinate another 10 percent of its population.
Although the country is reopening and encouraging travelers to visit, there are still restrictions in place throughout the country. These restrictions include a 25 person limit at social gatherings.
Nepal has fully vaccinated most people working in the tourism sector. For example, in popular destinations such as Langtang, locals and workers are fully jabbed as the country looks to bring back trekkers. Mountaineering and trekking will soon continue as normal, with groups limited between 20 and 30 people.
However, the authorities have yet to offer any permits to climb Mt Everest. But there are currently expeditions to base camps at various mountains, such as Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, and Kangchenjunga.
Nepal reopening is another Asian destination that’s finally looking to bring back international visitors. The Asian continent still has stringent travel restrictions in place, but things are starting to improve.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com