The government has issued an order for managing the arrival and departure of Nepali and foreign travellers keeping in mind the adverse effect on prevention, control and treatment of the COVID-19 along with new variants. The order has been issued pursuant to Section 2 of the Infectious Disease Act, 2020.
As per the order, the 'on arrival visa' will be issued to the foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are from the countries approved for obtaining Nepal's visa.
NepalNews spoke with some of the executive members of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) to learn about their opinions on the government's order issued to manage the incoming and outgoing travellers in Nepal.
NATTA Central President Achyut Sharma Guragain
On the behalf of NATTA, I express my gratitude to the government as the demands of tourism entrepreneurs have been addressed. We are thankful to learn that the government is opening the border for vaccinated tourists to ease the travellers arriving in Nepal via land. We are also grateful to the media for reporting the issues being faced by the tourism sector in the country.
I suggest that the government mobilise the websites of the Nepal Tourism Board and Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to inform the tourists about the new rules for travellers. Further, the government should now take initiative to remove Nepal from the lists of “Red Zone’ placed by many countries to ease the travellers since it is difficult to get the travel insurance destined for such countries.
NMA President Santa Bir Lama
The new travel management order issued by the government has not yet met the overall demands of the tourism entrepreneurs. The intention of the issued order is not yet clear while many other countries across the world have already started easing the travel. The travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 along with negative RT- PCR reports should have been allowed to roam freely in the country. Why should they undergo another antigen test? The travellers are still confused and making enquiries. The order is not as we had expected.
TAAN General Secretary Sarita Lama
Earlier, we had proposed the government vaccine to vaccine (V2V) concept according to which the vaccinated travellers would not have to be placed in quarantine. The new order, however, is complicated but still satisfactory, for the travellers can now obtain 'on arrival visa'. The travel management order does not mention the price of the antigen test and is not clear. This could mislead the travellers intending to visit Nepal. The government should have issued the travel management order a little before the beginning of the autumn season.
Now, the government in coordination with the World Health Organisation Nepal should find ways to inform the travellers and tourists that the risk of COVID-19 infection in Nepal has lowered to some degree enough to be removed from the list of “Red Zone”.
NMA General Secretary Kul Bahadur Gurung
The travel management order issued by the government is not up to the demand. There is nothing new about the ‘on arrival visa’. It is just the resumption service.
The ‘on arrival visa’ facility has been made available for the travellers who have been fully vaccinated and also 14 days before their arrival. What if they have been vaccinated just a week before? They have to stay in 10-day hotel quarantine. This makes things more complex rather than easing the travellers. The NMA had proposed a three-day quarantine, but the order has set a 10-day quarantine instead.
On the other hand, the travellers are required to undergo antigen tests at the entry points even after producing the negative PCR reports issued within 72 hours before the arrival. This does not make sense. The price for each antigen test has been set at Rs 2,000.
Apart from that, the local levels have also set their own rules that have made things more complex. For instance, the travellers visiting the Everest region have to undergo PCR tests again even after producing negative PCR reports. Likewise, the travellers in departure are also required to take another antigen test.
The travel management order issued by the government is good at the policy-making level but not practical.