Nepal: No Quarantine for Vaccinated Tourists

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.