Kathmandu, Sep 23 (EFE).- Nepal on Thursday removed its mandatory quarantine requirement and resumed issuing on-arrival visas for foreign travelers provided they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, in an attempt to revive its coronavirus-ravaged tourism industry.
“We have approved removing the quarantine requirement for all vaccinated travelers arriving in Nepal from all international destinations and updated the travel procedures effective from Thursday, September 23,” Taranath Adhikari, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, told EFE.
Visitors are required to have received their last dose at least 14 days prior to entering Nepal to be eligible for on-arrival visas.
Those not vaccinated or partially vaccinated need to get their entry permits from the Nepali diplomatic missions, and also go through a 10-day quarantine in government-listed hotels.
A negative RT-PCR, Gene Expert or True NAAT test is required for all to travel to Nepal, according to the new travel guidelines issued by the government on Thursday.
Moreover, all travelers need to undergo a mandatory antigen or rapid antigen at any immigration entry point.
The government has also opened land entry points for all tourists. Nepal borders China in the north and India in the south.
While Indians do not require visas to enter Nepal, other visitors are required to get their visas from the Nepali diplomatic missions in their respective countries to enter through the land route.
“These measures are expected to boost the country’s tourism industry,” the tourism ministry spokesperson underlined.
Travel and tourism businesses, which accounted for around 8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and provided more than 1.05 million jobs directly and indirectly in pre-Covid-19 times, were severely hit after travel restrictions came into force in early 2020.
Earlier this year, the government reopened the country to foreign travelers in the hope of lifting the economy and employment by reviving tourism.
However, a second and more devastating wave of Covid-19 infections as a result of the Delta variant hit the country in April, prompting the authorities to enforce strict lockdown measures once again.
The restrictions have been relaxed gradually, and a relative normalcy has returned to the streets since Sep.1.
Meanwhile, Nepal’s tourism industry welcomed the latest move by the government to relax restrictions for tourists.
“Although a delayed decision, it is a huge boost for the country’s tourism industry,” Khum Bahadur Subedi, president of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, told EFE.
“We expect a partial recovery in arrivals this autumn, the country’s peak tourism season. There are high hopes for a full spring season recovery if there are no fresh threats of a Covid-19 resurgence,” he underlined.
Nepal received 230,085 foreign tourists in 2020, a drop of more than 80 percent compared to 2019. This year, a total 66,966 international visitors arrived in Nepal until August.
Daily coronavirus infections have fallen sharply from a high of 9,317 on May 11, 2021, to 1,239 on Thursday. EFE