KATHMANDU (Xinhua): Nepal on Thursday resumed the on-arrival visa service to foreign tourists fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a view to reviving the tourism sector.
In a travel advisory to be effective immediately, Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said that foreign tourists would be able to receive on-arrival visas after producing documents showing they are fully inoculated against the coronavirus at least 14 days prior to their arrival in Nepal.
In addition, foreign tourists should produce documents about testing negative for the coronavirus in polymerase chain reaction tests 72 hours before they check in for boarding flights for Nepal, evidence of hotel booking in Nepal, and permits issued by Nepali authorities if foreigners are coming to Nepal for mountaineering and trekking, among others.
Foreign visitors need to go through antigen tests after arrival in Nepal, and shall be put in isolation if they test positive.
It is for the first time the South Asian country has resumed on-arrival visa facility for foreign tourists after suspending the service in March last year when being hit by the first wave of COVID-19.
“The decision to resume on-arrival visas was taken to rescue the tourism sector which has been devastated by the pandemic,” Laxmi Kumari Basnet, joint secretary at the ministry, told Xinhua. “On the other hand, COVID-19 cases in Nepal have also been decreasing in recent days and even schools are being reopened. So, it would not be justified to keep the tourism sector closed continuously.”
On Thursday, Nepal reported 941 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths, bringing the total tally to 788,769 with 11,072 deaths.
Earlier, only foreigners of Nepali origin, diplomats and those recommended by Nepali authorities were eligible for on-arrival visas for emergency purposes, according to Jhanka Nath Dhakal, spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of Immigration.
Under the new travel advisory, unvaccinated foreign tourists can obtain visas from Nepali missions abroad for travel to Nepal, but they have to stay in quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own expenses.