Nepal | October 28, 2020

Quarantine ‘could deter tourists’

Himalayan News Service
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The mandatory seven-day quarantine rule that tourists need to follow upon their arrival in Nepal will prove to be a deterrence for majority of travellers, say tourism sector stakeholders.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has issued protocols for tourists travelling to the country for mountaineering and trekking. As per the protocols issued today, foreigners have to stay in quarantine for seven days. However, stakeholders have demanded that the protocols be amended.

“Tourists travelling over long distances will avoid staying in quarantine for seven days.

Moreover, not all of them may be able to afford the seven-day hotel quarantine,” said Khum Subedi, president of Trekking Agencies’ Association Nepal. He added that if the government wanted tourists, then protocols should be convenient for them.

“Three-day quarantine can be considered, but a week-long quarantine is too lengthy and bothersome,” Subedi added. He said the government should allow tourists to move around the county on the basis of the PCR test report they bring from their respective countries.

He opined that the government should provide e-visa services as well.

Meanwhile, Santa Bir Lama, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, said the seven-day quarantine rule would affect tourists who were planning short trips to Nepal. “For instance, if a person can only come for a seven-day holiday here, then it is going to affect them,” he said, adding, “But for tourists who are planning to visit Nepal for a long duration or who have come for trekking and mountaineering, the rule might not affect them much.”

Lama, however, said everyone had to follow the government’s protocols which have been prepared in accordance with international standards. “Our responsibility is to make tourists feel secure when they travel to our country. For that, we have to do whatever is necessary,” he added.

According to the protocols, tourists must secure an entry-visa, or an entry-permit in the absence of visa provision in their countries in coordination with the respective travel agencies.

Travellers must come along with a negative PCR test report conducted not more than 72 hours before they board the flight. Along with the report, visitors must have booking documents for the hotel where they will be staying for at least seven days in quarantine.

Tourists must provide papers proving they have COVID-19 insurance worth $5,000. They must also undergo a PCR test at their own expense on the fifth day of their quarantine. They can then proceed with their travel plans at the end of the quarantine period only if the test report is negative. If the test result is positive, then the concerned person must stay in quarantine for as long as they do not test negative.

According to the ministry, the trekking or mountaineering agency must insure travellers against coronavirus for a sum of Rs 100,000 prior to applying for a permit.

A version of this article appears in print on September 30, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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