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 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. So, when will the travel to Nepal resume and what you should expect if you are travelling to Nepal after coronavirus?
Current scenario of Coronavirus in Nepal
These days things are beginning to return to normal routine in Kathmandu and other less affected cities after the lockdown was eased. The government eased the lockdown in different parts of the country as per the number of cases in the area. The high-risk areas which are the southern part of the country sharing an open border with India still remain under lockdown to control the outbreak.
As of July 14th 2020, there are 17,061 cases of COVID-19 registered in Nepal. Out of which, 10,475 have recovered with active case standing at 6,548. Sadly 38 deaths have been registered in Nepal until July 4th 2020.
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 2 months and the government has 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 is opened for essential business as per Phase 1. After only assessing the risk will the government determine the next phase announcement or extend the period of phase 1. Most of the tourist destinations in Nepal and the mountainous region has seen less number of cases. Public gathering with more than 25 people are prohibited in the country and the movement across the country has been made strict in order to prevent the spread.
The southern part of Nepal, Nepal-Indian border side areas are most affected by coronavirus with people returning from India. The new cases of coronavirus have seen a huge spike in recent days due to repatriation flights and workers returning home. But lately, the number of people quarantined have dropped significantly. Also, recovering cases are growing each day.
International and Domestic commercial passenger flights remain suspended until August 16, 2020, as per the latest notice issued by Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. International and domestic commercial passengers flights will resume from Aug 17 2020.
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 major trekking and climbing season in Nepal which starts from March till May. International and domestic commercial passenger flights are allowed to operate from August 17, 2020, as per the high-level committee decision made on July 20, 2020. However, the safety protocol for tourists arriving has not been announced yet but tourism stakeholders are bidding to remove the 14 days quarantine requirement for the arriving tourists.
When will travel to Nepal resume?
This Covid-19 pandemic will eventually end and Nepal tourism will start. But yes, the big question is from when.
Nepal government has directed all the tourism personnel to work on adapting the “New Normal” into their daily operations in a bid to resume tourism from autumn 2020. The government has announced to resume international commercial flights from August 17th and have taken safety measures accordingly. All tourist activities are allowed after the flights are resumed.
Airlines, hotels, restaurants and etc. are all gearing 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.
Elsewhere around the world, countries are now relaxing the lockdown and restrictions. Many countries have opened their borders and many changes have been adopted to prevent the outbreak. Nepal mandated a strict lockdown for 3 months and the lockdown has now been eased with public transportation resumed from July 13th.
Trekking and climbing permits for the upcoming season will be issued and we will be back in the mountains this coming season. The protocols and safety guidelines put forward by the Nepal Government and Health Ministry will be adhered to in all our upcoming trips. We look forward to welcoming you all once again.
Safety protocols and guidelines by the Nepal Government
Government of Nepal has been doing the assessment work on resuming the travel industry in Nepal for a while now. Although the official announcement for the tourism industry to be opened in Nepal has not been made yet, the government is considering to open it soon and most importantly safely. Commercial passengers flights will resume from Aug 17th 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 the tourism for the upcoming fall season. The preparations for opening the business are being carried out throughout the country. But, given the situation around the world, the exact announcement has not been made.
Countries around the world have started reopening for 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 by 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 spring 2020 due to the risk of coronavirus. Autumn 2020 may see few expeditions to Manaslu, Ama Dablam and other major trekking peaks if the restriction is lifted. The number of people coming to Nepal this year for climbing is expected to drop significantly thus making the trail quieter and less crowded.
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 thermometer, mask, sanitizer, glove and oxygen cylinder.
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 on 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 hat. 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 the 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 thermometer, extra masks, disposable gloves, soap and/or sanitizers.
- 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 virus unknowingly. So, abide by the guideline set by the World Health Organization and the local authorities to help stop spread 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 sanitizer 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 the 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 sanitizer 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 hand sanitizer 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.
Dream Now Visit Later
There is no need to cancel or alter your Nepal holiday plans for autumn 2020 as of now and the tourism ministry is looking at every possible option for opening up the tourism in Nepal, whilst keeping the safety of travellers and workers a paramount.
If the risk of the virus is too high then we will be forced to suspend the trip for autumn 2020 and will transfer your booking for next date without any cancellation or additional charges.
But we are optimistic that our autumn trips will run as planned as the flights and hotels are expected to resume very soon. We have been accepting bookings for autumn 2020 and 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: 2020-07-21