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Nepal resumes visa on arrival for vaccinated foreign tourists

KATHMANDU

In a bid to revive its struggling tourism industry, the Nepal government has done away with its seven-day mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for foreign tourists and resumed issuing visas on arrival to vaccinated travelers.

In another major boost to the world, major airlines have announced the resumption of the much in demand mountain flights, which draw lakhs of tourists annually.

In a notice on Thursday, the Immigration Department of Nepal said foreign travelers to Nepal can obtain visas on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, and other entry points, including buses from neighboring India if the applicants have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before.

Further, the travelers are required to point out documents attesting that they need tested negative for coronavirus during a test (anyone among RT-PCR/Gene Expert/ True NAAT tests) conducted at the most 72 hours before arrival which they need pre-booked hotel arrangements.

If travelers intend on collecting visas from Nepali embassies abroad, they’re also required to complete the vaccination beforehand.

Unvaccinated travelers will need to undergo 10 days of quarantine, according to the notice.

The announcement comes as Nepal’s COVID-19 outbreak considerably eased within the past few months, daily virus cases which were ranging upwards of 8,000 in late April and should, have come down within the 100s in September.

Meanwhile, the 2 main airlines operating mountain flights have said plans are on to extend the frequency.

The one-hour mountain flight takes passengers to a height of about 25,000 ft on either side of Mt Everest, it’s one of the most sought-after attractions within the Himalayan nation.

Yeti Airlines, which stopped mountain flights, said services will begin from next Sunday.

Buddha Air is presently operating mountain flights only on Saturdays, however, its marketing manager Rupesh Joshi said more flights are going to be operated from next week.

Nepal, which hosts eight of 14 highest peaks within the world, is severely dependent on its tourism sector.

The Himalayan nation recorded just 230,085 foreign footfalls in 2020, a dip of over 80 percent compared to 2019.

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