Planning on visiting Nepal post COVID? Find out what you should expect if you are travelling to Nepal after coronavirus. It’s too early for long-term predictions but we hope this will provide you with useful information and advice on preparing for future trips to Nepal post-lockdown.
Just as the 2020 spring season, the main expedition and trekking season in Nepal, was about to kick in, the Nepal government mandated a strict lockdown after the second case of coronavirus was found in Nepal. Since then the tourism has been brought to a complete halt. All non-essential travel to Nepal has since then been restricted and the tourism industry has faced a devastating blow. Once-in-a-hundred-year catastrophe, COVID-19, has brought the world to a standstill since March 2020.
Travel to Nepal has resumed since Oct 17th, 2020 and there have been frequent changes in the guidelines to boost tourism. Nepal government on March 27th, 2021 announced new travel guidelines to visiting Nepal in a bid to boost tourism under which tourists coming to Nepal do not have to stay in quarantine for 7 days now. Vaccination has started across Nepal too and we look forward to being back in the mountains soon.
If you are planning on visiting Nepal read below to find out what you should expect if you are travelling to Nepal after coronavirus?
Current scenario of Coronavirus in Nepal
These days things are back to normal routine in Kathmandu and other cities of Nepal. The government eased the lockdown in different parts of the country as per the number of cases in the area.
Nepal government mandated a strict lockdown after the second case of Coronavirus was found in Mid-March. The country was under a strict lockdown for 3 months and the government had put forward three phases of re-start protocol.
In Mid-June the government eased the lockdown in the less affected areas. The lockdown in less affected areas like Kathmandu was opened for essential business as per Phase 1. Most of the tourist destinations in Nepal and the mountainous region has seen fewer cases. Public gathering with more than 25 people was prohibited in the country and the movement across the country was made strict in order to prevent the spread.
As of March 2021, Nepal is fully open for all activities including school, colleges and restaurants. Tourism is allowed in Nepal and we are seeing an increase in the number of tourists visiting Nepal recently.
Today things are back to normal routine in Nepal and daily works have begun to resume. The vaccination has started across Nepal too and the government plans to vaccinate the majority of the population by 2022.
International and Domestic commercial passenger flights are being fully operated in Nepal and tourists are allowed to visit Nepal given they fulfil the required guidelines.
Coronavirus impact on Nepal Tourism
The impact of coronavirus in Nepal tourism is predicted to be bigger than the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. It has been estimated that the tourism sector will take considerable time to bounce back to the normal condition. But Nepal tourism board is gearing up to bounce back and has a plan in place to keep the tourists and workers safe once the lockdown and international restriction has been lifted up.
As per the Tourism Statistics prepared by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal welcomed 1.2 million tourists in 2018. Tourism accounts for 8 per cent of the GDP. In 2019, the tourist industry pumped 240 billion Nepali Rupees into Nepal economy. According to the Kathmandu Post, Nepal earns $4m (£3.1m) just by issuing Everest expedition permits every year, aside from wider tourism revenue.
The year 2020 was announced as a Visit Nepal Year with the government planning to welcome 2 million tourists. But due to the coronavirus outbreak, the tourism industry received a devastating blow. The tourism industry in Nepal generates a million jobs. Visit Nepal Year 2020 was expected to provide more jobs and revenue but this all has been shattered. The year 2020 would have been a year for growth in the Tourism industry had there not been this pandemic of coronavirus. The lockdown was announced just before the start of the major trekking and climbing season in Nepal which starts from March till May.
International and domestic commercial flights and chartered flights to Nepal are being operated from Sept 1, 2020. All incoming international passengers are required to meet and fulfil all the requirements of arrival protocols.
When will travel to Nepal resume?
This Covid-19 pandemic will eventually end and Nepal tourism will bounce back. But yes, the big question is from when.
Nepal government has already resumed international commercial flights from September 1st and tourist activities have resumed from Oct 17, 2021, the government has taken safety measures accordingly to mitigate the spread. As of now, tourism is allowed in Nepal given they meet the arrival protocols and guidelines. This spring 2020 season has seen a recovery in the number of tourists visiting Nepal.
The government of Nepal has directed all the tourism personnel to work on adapting the “New Normal” into their daily operations in a bid to resume tourism. Airlines, hotels, restaurants and etc. are all geared up to adopt the new normal into their daily operations to resume the business. The government has put forward safety protocols and guidelines for the tourism sectors to provide visitors, safe and COVID free visit to Nepal.
Is Nepal open for travellers?
YES, Nepal is open to travellers for all tourism activities. Tourism in Nepal was allowed since Oct 17, 2021, but only for the purpose of trekking and mountaineering. Today as of March 27 2021, other tourism activities have all resumed given they meet and fulfil all the requirements of arrival protocols.
What the arrival protocols for coming to Nepal?
All arriving tourists must ensure and meet the following conditions to be allowed to come to Nepal.
1. The following passengers and their family members can obtain a visa on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport without any pre-approval letter or recommendations.
- Foreigners holding Diplomatic/Official passport or U N Laissez-Passer.
- Foreign employees working in UN agencies and other international organizations in Nepal.
- Foreigners of Nepalese origin (birthplace as Nepal stated in the passport) or Non-Residential Nepalesecard holders
2. All the foreigners except mentioned above without a prior visa of Nepal should obtain a tourist entry visa from the Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad, else should have a pre-approval/recommendation letter from the government authorities of Nepal for ensuring a visa on arrival. If getting a prior visa of Nepal is not convenient for you then we can provide you with the recommendation letters which will ensure you get a Nepal visa on arrival at Kathmandu airport.
3. The entry/exit points at the land border are open but a prior Nepal visa will be required to enter from these points.
4. Non-vaccinated tourists must have a COVID-19 negative report (RT-PCR/Gene Xpert/True NAAT or equivalent) obtained within 72 hours prior to their departure from the first port of embarkation (72 hours is not counted from the transits or layover), children below 5 years accompanied with parents are exempted of submitting such.
5. Vaccinated tourists are exempted from providing COVID-19 negative report at the departure point but they will need to show proof of vaccination card/paper.
6. Upon arrival all tourists (Vaccinated and non-vaccinated) will have to perform a PCR test in Kathmandu and they need to quarantine themselves at their own cost until the report is out. If tested negative, they will not have to stay in quarantine any further and will be allowed to continue their travel plans. If tested positive, they will have to stay in quarantine at their own cost until their report tests negative.
7. All tourists must have travel Insurance including emergency evacuation, rescue and search, medical for their entire stay in Nepal.
8. All travellers are subject to follow the health and security-related protocols of GoN.
9. Issuance of tourist entry visa from Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad is resumed as usual.
10. TD and emergency passport holders are not eligible to get a visa on arrival at the entry points.
How do I obtain an approval letter to procure Visa on arrival?
If in the case of Nepal mission not being available in your home country and it is not convenient for you to go, then your travel company can assist by doing the necessary paperwork. Your travel company will do the necessary paperwork for you to get the recommendation letter to avail visa on arrival at Kathmandu airport.
Documents to be submitted at Kathmandu airport to obtain VoA?
a. PCR Negative test report obtained within 72 hours prior to their departure from the first port of embarkation for non vaccinated tourists and Vaccination certificate for anyone who has received both doses of vaccine against COVID-19.
b.Letter of recommendation from GoN if you are applying for Visa on arrival.
c. Hotel booking confirmation
d. Travel Insurance
e. Return flight ticket.
f. A confirmed itinerary of your trip prepared by the licensed and registered trekking and expedition company.
g. Confirmation of online entry form of CCMC. Online Entry Form
Safety protocols and guidelines by the Nepal Government
The government of Nepal has been doing the assessment work on resuming the travel industry in Nepal safely. The guidelines and arrival protocols are constantly being changed as per the situation and we advise you to check the latest guidelines and protocols to ensure your travel is hassle-free.
Commercial passengers flights for Nepali nationals and diplomats have resumed from Sept 1st and the government has put forward a safety guideline and protocol to be applied in the operations of conducting flights.
The government of Nepal has put forward guidelines “COVID-19 Safety and Hygiene Protocols for the Tourism Industry ” for hotels, tour operators and all tourism-related services to minimize risk for both consumers and providers of tourism services.
The government of Nepal has asked tourism service providers to compete for the best health and safety protocols in place to build upon the confidence of the travellers. The protocols would be at par with the global standard for the ‘New Normal’.
As of now, the government of Nepal is still optimistic to resume tourism for 2021. The preparations for opening the business are being carried out throughout the country.
Countries around the world have started reopening for travel to some extent but the new strain of the virus has seemed to put a halt in the planning of resuming travel. Due to the poor health care system and fewer resources in Nepal even if the government wants to open Nepal for tourism, the country can not afford a serious outbreak due to which the uncertainty of tourism resuming remains still.
Why Nepal after Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The Tourism Ministry has requested all the lodge owners and local authorities to mandate the safety protocol strictly and to adhere to the guideline in day to day operation to gain back the confidence of international and national tourists.
Major popular trekking areas such as Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp etc. may see fewer numbers of trekkers than expected once travel restriction has been lifted but you should still be cautious and follow the safety protocols strictly. We have also mandated new norms on our trek to help mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.
Climbing in Nepal post Coronavirus
All climbs incl Everest and other 8000m peaks in Nepal were completely suspended in 2020 due to the risk of coronavirus. This spring 2021, climbers from aorund the world have gathered in Kathmandu in a bid to summit the world’s highest mountain and several other peaks. We remain optimistic that 2021 will bring climbers around the world for expeditions to Everest, Lhotse, other 8000ers peaks and other major trekking peaks. The number of people coming to Nepal this year for climbing is expected to increase slightly given the vaccination has started across the globe.
If you choose to come to Nepal for peak climbing anytime soon, be assured that the mountains will not be crowded and you get to enjoy the climb freely.
The government has mandated a safety guideline for camping and day to day operations involved in the adventure activity. On all our climbing trips, we encourage you to bring your personal and climbing gears to prevent the spread. We have also updated our medical kits on all our trips which will contain a thermometer, mask, sanitiser, glove and oxygen cylinder.
COVID-19 Vaccination in Nepal
Nepal was among the first countries in Asia to receive COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX Facility. The vaccination has started across Nepal and most of the elderly people (65+ ages) have been inoculated against the COVID-19. Oxford AstraZeneca, COVAXIN, Chinese manufactured vaccines have all been approved in Nepal for use.
How we are preparing for our trips | Travel with Confidence
At, Highland Expeditions we value our clients and staff safety as our utmost priority. With over 30 years of expertise in trekking and mountaineering in the Himalayas, we have been through worse and each time we have “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”. COVID-19 is once in a century pandemic that has brought the tourism industry around the world to a complete halt. However, we believe we can overcome this too and no matter who bad the circumstances look now, better days will come.
The good old days of travel may not be seen quickly but we can mitigate the risk at the moment and still provide a wonderful experience to our clients.
To fight against COVID-19, we have mandated the following protocols on all our trips to ensure a safe and wonderful holiday in our part of the world after tourism is resumed:
- Clients should provide 30 days of travel history before coming to Nepal.
- You may be requested to present a COVID-19 free certificate.
- Briefing on COVID-19, prevention and guidelines will be given after your arrival in Kathmandu.
- Clients should abide by the emergency protocols set by the government of Nepal to run the trip responsibly.
- Daily Leader Log according in a pre-established format to record itinerary and points of contact to facilitate contact tracing should the need arise. This could include daily temperature checks and self-administered symptom form by the clients.
- Daily briefings to include hygiene, physical distancing and emergency protocols.
- Aware client and guide for minimal touch and contact.
- Work alongside other leaders in a destination to ensure minimal risk of contamination, and maintain a high level of hygiene.
- Updated first aid kit.
- First Aid Kits with every Leader containing a thermometer, extra masks, disposable gloves, soap and/or sanitisers
- Daily communication when possible with the office to report and get updates on the overall situation, so the itinerary can be followed and adapted according to the situation.
- The guide shall advise clients to strictly follow health protocols in lodges (coughing into elbow or shirt, wearing a mask, not handing common condiment containers without clean hands, not touching door handles without clean hands, not using any common towel etc).
- Cleaning and disinfecting tourist vehicle routinely.
- Maintain physical distance wherever possible such as in transport and eating places.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the trekking and climbing equipment after every use.
- All clients will have single rooms, (wherever applicable) except for couples or people who have travelled to Nepal together.
- The guide shall advise clients to the only shop from local shops where safety guidelines are being adhered
Tips for travelling to Nepal post COVID-19
Travelling may not be the same for a certain time period but if we want to eliminate COVID-19 and mitigate the risk of spreading and contracting the virus, we can help and prepare ourselves accordingly. Maintaining social distance, practising good hygiene etc can help “flatten the curve”. The quicker and better we do it, the sooner we are able to resume normal, daily life.
Travelling isn’t only about visiting a place and returning home safely with good memories; it is also about how we leave our impact on nature and local people.
The place you are visiting may not be COVID-19 affected area but you yourself may be the carrier of the virus unknowingly. So, abide by the guideline set by the World Health Organization and the local authorities to help stop the spread of the virus and for the good old travel days to resume earlier.
We request all our travellers to abide by these rules when travelling to Nepal after Coronavirus:
- Do not travel if you have developed any symptom of COVID-19. Instead, seek medical attention and resume travel only when you are certain of COVID-19 free.
- Consult a travel medicine clinic or medical practitioner before the journey
- Bring your mask, gloves and sanitiser when travelling.
- Do not shake hands. Instead, wave or Namaste.
- Maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between yourself and others.
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wear a mask or cloth to cover your face when travelling.
- Carry your personal first aid kit when travelling understanding its use.
- Inform the guide/ leader of any symptoms of any sort of illness.
- We encourage all our clients to bring their own personal equipment required for the trek & climb for safety purpose. This also includes Down Jacket & Sleeping Bag for trekking trips and climbing gears for climbing trips.
- You should have travel medical insurance that includes helicopter evacuation, and the travel medical company would ensure that clients would be medevac out to the nearest medical facility in case of any illness.
- Travellers shall agree to follow the company’s health and safety protocol in case of any suspected case of virus transmission or illness within the group or within the area.
- Clients shall be requested to carry their own sanitiser with them in their packs at all times (they would bring their own on activity with them).
- If you do physically interact with a customer, remember to wash hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser after every interaction.
- Keep a daily journey and contact record with other people to facilitate contact tracing should the need arise
- Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities.
- Travellers are advised to have a medical examination on their return if they develop any symptoms.
- Be sure to check your country foreign travel advice and keep your embassy or consulate informed about your whereabouts when travelling.
There is no need to cancel or alter your Nepal holiday plans for 2021 as of now and the tourism ministry is looking at every possible option for opening up tourism in Nepal safely, whilst keeping the safety of travellers and workers a priority.
If the risk of the virus is too high then we will be forced to suspend the trip for 2021 and will transfer your booking for the next date without any cancellation or additional charges.
But we are optimistic that our 2021 trips will run as planned as the flights, hotels, lodges have all resumed safely catering to the needs of tourists. We have been accepting bookings for 2021. If we are not able to run the trip due to the travel restrictions and lockdown imposed then we will transfer your booking for the next date without any additional charges. We request all our travellers not to cancel the trip but to postpone it for later days.
The tourism industry, workers and local people of this country need your support now more than ever to sustain.
We are sure the normal days will return soon and in the meantime take care and stay safe. We look forward to welcoming you and guiding you in the Himalayas with better safety and experience.
From all of us at Highland Expeditions, We thank all the frontline workers around the world, who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe.
Last Updated: March 27 2021