The government of Nepal has lifted the temporary ban on issuing visa-on-arrival services for international travelers visiting the country. The good news is that the mandatory quarantine has also been relaxed.
Traveling is supposed to be one of the most entertaining modes to explore new destinations, meet strangers and become friends within a short span. However, the greatest pandemic of the 21st century, COVID-19 had impacts on almost all industries including tourism, one of the world’s greatest markets. Now, with the sharp decline in COVID-19 cases, the world has gradually started opening up and Nepal has decided to participate in this revival.
Visitors will be provided tourist visas on arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu after fulfilling certain health criteria.
Initially, when the first lockdown was lifted, foreigners were allowed to come to Nepal. For this, they had to get their visas from the Nepal Embassy based in their own country or a neighboring country. But within no time, the virus spread was rampant and Nepal government once again banned international flights as well as all foreign travelers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 27 April 2021 made certain changes in the guidelines keeping in mind the travel safety measures and hygiene protocols. These safety protocols have more or less remained the same since then except for the mandatory quarantine being lifted. And CDC’s Health Safety Protocols have been quite advantageous, especially for those travelers who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Quarantine Not Mandatory To Enter Nepal
It’s now time for avid travelers who had been stuck inside their homes for a pretty long time to get back to exploration. The reason: Nepal is now issuing on-arrival visas to foreign travelers. And the best part is that, as long as you are fully vaccinated and have a negative PCR, done 72 hours prior to boarding your plane, you need not isolate yourself and stay in quarantine.
With new rules in place, the hopes for tourism resurgence have bounced back. The government of Nepal, with various applicable health protocols, has slammed away the quarantine requirements in an attempt to bring back the virus-smacked tourism industry from a short period of hibernation to life.
COVID-19 and the pandemic effect
The 2019 pandemic shut down the whole world virtually keeping people off work and crashed even the mightiest of the businesses around the globe. Although it is not possible to estimate the extent of COVID-19’s economic impact, the whole world suffered socially, financially, mentally, and physically.
Long duration lockdowns in almost every country around the world helped to keep the virus spread in control. But, on the other hand, it was leading to severe economic deterioration. Nepal wasn’t spared either from bearing the adversities that arose from the pandemic. Lockdowns were being called off gradually one country after another.
Nepal too lifted the shutdown and started visa services to foreigners with strict health protocols and compulsory quarantine at that time. But, again the second wave of the coronavirus brought back everything to a complete lockdown for the second time.
After a gap of more than four months, the government of Nepal on 23 September 2021 issued an order stepping on Infectious Disease Act to provide on-arrival visa to international travelers without having to undergo quarantine.
It is obviously not as easy as it used to be in the pre-COVID days to enter Nepal as visitors will be required to fulfill several health protocols. But yes, there is no more mandatory quarantine as it used to be in the past.
Requirements for On-arrival Visa to Nepal
- All international travelers should provide a document to prove that they have been vaccinated fully at least 14 days before leaving their home country.
- Travelers should also provide a negative PCR test report, which is not older than 72 hours of checking-in the flight.
- All foreign tourists need to undergo mandatory antigen or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at immigration entry points.
- A copy of the legal permission issued by government authorities (in case travelers are entering Nepal for mountaineering, trekking or other similar activities).
- A copy of their hotel booking in Nepal.
- A printed document of International Traveler Online Arrival Form will also be required from the travelers. This form is available on the government website.
- Travelers who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated will not get on-arrival visas unless they get their entry permits from Nepali diplomatic missions. Also, they have to spend 10 days in quarantine in government designated hotels at their own expenses.
Why Nepal is Open to Tourism Now?
The government of Nepal decided to lift the ban on issuing On-Arrival Visa to foreign tourists citing that the coronavirus cases have now shrunk rapidly. Further, they have stated that the number of vaccinated people around the world has been on the rise posing less threats of infection in the country.
However, visitors with or without complete vaccination will have to do an on-the-spot Rapid Antigen Test and get a negative certification before being allowed entry. Prior to that, non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers have to get their entry permits from Nepali diplomatic missions in their country. If found positive during the Antigen Test, they will have to undergo quarantine as stated in the International Traveler Online Arrival Form in the government website for COVID-19 Crisis Management Center at government-listed hotels at their own expenses.
The government of Nepal has stated that COVID-19 has impacted tourism the most in Nepal since the sector is tremendously important to the livelihoods of the locals. In the past two years, the pandemic caused the shutting down of businesses like travel agencies, tour guides, and teahouses in the mountain regions. Due to this, the loss borne by tourism alone has crippled the country and driven hundreds of thousands of citizens into unemployment and poverty. With high hopes of bouncing back early, the government of Nepal after several discussions with stakeholders, has now permitted international travelers to enter and open up the tourism industry.
Can I enter Nepal if I have received only a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, according to the press release made by the government of Nepal on 23 September 2021, all international tourists can enter Nepal. However, all travelers including those who have received only a single dose (partial dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine, need to get a Rapid Antigen Test done at the entry point of the international airport. Prior to that, non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers need to acquire their entry permits from Nepali diplomatic missions from their country. Those who are tested positive in the antigen test, will have to compulsorily quarantine themselves at their own cost for 10 days at a government-designated hotel. And, on the 11th day, they will have to do their PCR test and get a negative report before taking up for any activities in Nepal.
All costs including PCR test, hotel quarantine, insurance and other costs incurred during their isolation period will have to be borne by the tourists. Travelers who feel sick during their tour or trekking journey have to undergo PCR test immediately. If the test report is positive, then tourists will have to stay in self-isolation unless they test negative.
As countries around the world gradually lift travel restrictions and tourism sector resumes at a slow pace, health is one thing that comes under priority. Likewise, health protocols that will protect travelers, workers as well as communities must firmly be in place. Transformation of tourism industry is only possible through individual contribution as well as collective action and international cooperation.
Now that Nepal is welcoming international visitors, we look forward to an effortless step of sustaining livelihoods that depend solely on tourism. We are hopeful to fall back on track and get back the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people who are now out of work, who have no income and who are already poverty-stricken.