Visitors from abroad who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can also present a current negative corona test will no longer have to undergo a one-week hotel quarantine in Nepal. According to the Kathmandu Post newspaper, this was decided by the Nepalese government at yesterday’s cabinet meeting. In other words, even vaccinated climbers who want to climb Mount Everest or another mountain in Nepal this spring will once again be able to decide for themselves when to head to the mountains after arriving in Kathmandu.
Government wants to boost tourism
Until now, quarantine in a hotel in Kathmandu was mandatory for all foreign tourists. They had to present a negative PCR test upon entry, which had not to be older than 72 hours. On the fifth day of quarantine, they had to take another test. Only when this was also negative were they allowed to continue traveling in Nepal.
By easing entry restrictions, the government hopes to boost tourism in the Himalayan state. Because of the corona pandemic, the market had collapsed last year. Only about 230,000 tourists had traveled to Nepal. That was roughly one-fifth of the number of visitors in 2019. Because of the continuing pandemic, tourism is only getting back on track very slowly. In January and February 2021, around 9,000 tourists each arriving from abroad were registered in Nepal. In comparison, in January 2020, there were about 80,000.
2,000 vaccine doses as gift
The first foreign climbers are already in Nepal – among them the team of the Royal Guard of Bahrain, which wants to climb Mount Everest this spring. The team is led by Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa, a member of the royal family, as was the case with the summit success on the eight-thousander Manaslu last fall. The team had 2,000 vaccine doses in its luggage, which were intended for the village of Samagaon at the foot of Manaslu. The well-intentioned gesture caused disgruntlement with the Nepalese government because the vaccine doses had obviously not been properly declared.
Perhaps the government, which had issued the financially strong Bahrainis a special permit for Manaslu last fall, felt once again ignored. After the success on Manaslu, the Bahraini team let it be known that the authorities in Samagaon had renamed a 5,200-meter-high mountain there “Royal Bahrain Peak” out of gratitude. In Nepal, only the government has the right to rename peaks.