Nepal: No Quarantine for Vaccinated Tourists

8000ers Himalaya
Marius Gane (left) and Horia Colibasanu, en route to Nepal a week early. Photo: Horia Colibasanu

But with 2021 tourist numbers still at rock bottom, will this new measure salvage the season?

Nepal’s government has finally reacted to petitions from the tourism industry and lifted the quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors. But it is too late to save the season?

Tourists are not returning to pre-monsoon Nepal in the numbers that the government had hoped. The ever-changing COVID situation around the world and the stringent requirements for foreigners entering Nepal has put off many potential tourists.

Currently, visitors must provide a negative PCR taken within 72 hours and immediately quarantine in a hotel for at least a week. During that time, they have to pass a second PCR test (at their expense) before moving freely around the country.

No smiles visible at Madison Mountaineering’s celebration after summiting Ama Dablam last fall.

While these measures don’t particularly affect climbing expeditions that can last nearly two months, trekkers on a tighter budget and with limited vacation time usually come for just two or three weeks. For them, losing a week in a Kathmandu hotel is a deal-breaker.

Finally, those who visit Nepal on whirlwind tours to Kathmandu, the mountains, or Chitwan National Park are definitely out. According to the Immigration Department, the number of visitors last year dropped to 1986 figures, and most of those 230,000 came before March 20, when Nepal’s COVID restrictions began.

The number of visitors in January and February of this year is even more disappointing — a measly 9,000 per month, an 87.6 percent drop compared to previous years, according to the Kathmandu Post.

It doesn’t help that India — Nepal’s biggest tourist market — is currently experiencing a surge in cases, especially in Mumbai, the country’s richest state. Meanwhile, China — another major source of Nepal’s tourist revenue — remains virtually closed.

The new regulation will permit visitors who have received their two doses of a COVID vaccine to travel freely within Nepal without quarantine, as long as they provide a negative PCR test on entry.

But at this late stage, with both the mountaineering and trekking season just around the corner, will this measure stimulate a last-minute flurry of sign-ups? It is not even officially implemented yet. When asked about a specific date, authorities just say, “soon”.

It certainly hasn’t been in time for Horia Colibasanu. He had been vaccinated at home in Romania, figured that he would be able to escape without a quarantine. But he discovered at the last moment that he could not. He flew to Nepal yesterday a week ahead of schedule, together with Marius Gane, in order to duly sit out his full quarantine.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Damien François
Damien François
27 days ago

Negative PCR-test will also allow you to enter the country, as I learnt yesterday from a friend who runs a trekking company in KTM:”Are there any rules regarding Covid-19 in Nepal?While public places and transportation are back open, there are no quarantine rules for tourists with a negative PCR report or vaccination report there are no quarantine rules. Now of course Encountersnepal.com has some guidelines in order to protect you from any possible contamination during your trip or trek in Nepal. By selecting safe hotels and accommodations, providing soft and stylish Enountersnepal.com mouth covers and by selecting less populated routes… Read more »

Monaco
Monaco
19 days ago

This is incorrect. Nepal still requires negative PCR within 72hrs of initiation of travel to Nepal. You then have to quarantine 7 days. On the 5th day you go for a PCR test which if negative means you can break quarantine on day 7. THERE IS NO DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN VACCINATED OR UNVACCINATED. My source is a phone call to the Nepal Embassy in Washington DC on March 26th. This is better than the official statement of 10 days quarantine released on March 22nd. Fact is there have been mixed reports out of Nepal and by the government of Nepal which… Read more »