After a six-month long COVID-19 lockdown, as a part of gradual opening and as per the Government of Nepal’s decision to allow the operation of domestic flights, intercity buses, hotels and restaurants to reopen from Sept. 17, 2020; domestic tourism movement has restarted now. The safety and hygiene protocols are to be followed strictly. To assure confidence in travel, the Government has set up an effective and regular monitoring mechanism. The tourism fraternity of Nepal has welcomed this decision of the Government.
As of September 17, 2020, out of 59,500 infected cases nearly 43,000 have recovered with 380 deaths having the symptom of COVID-19. Only 8,139 cases are symptomatic and are in hospital isolation wards. The COVID-19 dedicated health centers with isolation wards are established at local level also.
Nepal has received 215717 IVAs from January–August, 2020; which is about 70% down compared to 2019. For the survival of the industry and to support the tourism business and the jobs engaged in it, the Government has allocated USD 419.62 million and has done some policy revisions too.
The Government decision has also allowed Trekking and Mountaineering activities to be opened for foreign visitors from Oct. 17, 2020. These decisions are being taken by the Cabinet meeting on the recommendation of the high level COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC).
The Government has relaxed lockdown from Sept. 13 in Kathmandu Valley, the capital city of Nepal, allowing shops to reopen. Public transport, taxis and private vehicles are also allowed on odd-even days. Domestic Flights are opened for operation with full capacity from Sept. 21, 2020. 2020 Safety protocols are made mandatory to be followed at various points like airports, hotels, restaurants, destinations, activity centers, shops, transport vehicles etc.
From September 1, scheduled and regulated international flights were also allowed as long as the total number of arriving passengers daily did not exceed 800 but now the daily arrival limit has been removed. As per the notice released from Department of Immigration of Nepal, the Department has decided to resume all its regular visa services from Sept. 13, 2020. Visa will be regulated as per an prior notice, without any late fees and penalties till Sept. 27, 2020.
In major tourist-activity areas like trekking, national parks, mountaineering, the COVID-19 cases are nil. As Nepal is a less crowded and nature-based activity destination, the interest of travelers towards Nepal is more than before.
An 18-member expedition team, including a member of the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has arrived in Kathmandu on Sept. 16, 2020, to climb Mt. Lobuche and Mt. Manaslu. The Bahrain Military Expedition from the Royal Guard is led by Bahrain’s Prince Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khaifa.
Similarly, a couple of teams have obtained permission for expedition to the mountains. After reopening of the tourism services, the service providers in destinations like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini, Annapurna, Everest, Langtang, Ilam, Bardiya etc.are getting encouraging inquiries and bookings for domestic tourism movements. The major stakeholders of Nepal’s tourism industry are encouraged by this development.
As a joint initiative to work for the sound and quickest recovery, PATA Nepal and SKAL Nepal have formed a Tourism Recovery Task Force – Nepal (www.TRTFNepal.com) bringing public and private sectors together under the leadership of noted tourism personality of Nepal, former CEO, Nepal Tourism Board, Deepak Raj Joshi, as coordinator. A series of revival actions are already under implementation.