Kathmandu, Sep 29 (efe-epa).- Nepal government on Tuesday laid down the health and safety measures for foreign tourists as the Himalayan nation gears up to open its borders for trekkers and mountaineers from Oct. 17, around six months after international travel was shut down due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Tourism Ministry spokesperson Kamal Prasad Bhattarai told EFE that under the new health safety guidelines issued by the government, foreigners would be required to undergo a seven-day mandatory hotel quarantine before embarking on their trekking and mountaineering expeditions.
“We have opened only for trekkers and mountaineers. Tourists coming for other purposes like leisure and pilgrimage will not be allowed as of now,” said Bhattarai.
He said that as per the guidelines, foreign tourists will also need to undergo testing for the novel coronavirus at the start and end of their quarantine period.
If a traveler tests positive, they would have to remain under hotel quarantine until they recover from the infection.
The spokesperson revealed that the country’s visa-on-arrival facility will not be available at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, and travelers will need to secure visas before leaving for Nepal.
In case they are unable to secure visas through the Nepali embassies and diplomatic missions abroad, visitors can make a prior request for them through trekking and travel agencies in Nepal.
Trekkers and mountaineers will also have to insure their travel guides for 100,000 rupees ($855). As per the government’s guidelines, guides are mandatory for all trekking and mountaineering expeditions.
Documents required to enter Nepal will include a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test report not older than 72 hours, documents that were issued from Nepal for visas, documents of advance booking of hotels for at least seven days and Covid-19 related insurance documents with a coverage of $5,000 per person.
The Himalayan nation, home to eight of the 14 tallest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, earns about $4.73 million a year in permit fees from climbers and employs tens of thousands of workers.
According to the Tourism Ministry, last year 8,202 people climbed different peaks in Nepal. The country has opened 414 peaks for commercial climbing.
But in 2020, the government’s revenue collection has hit rock bottom due to the pandemic. Tourist arrivals have dropped by 99 percent since April.
The massive decline in tourism, which employs about a million people, is said to be worse than the downturn during the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) and the 2015 earthquake combined. EFE-EPA