Nepal government Suspend all tourist Visa on arrival and cancels spring expeditions

On Thursday night, Government of Nepal decided to temporarily stop issuing on-arrival all tourist visas to all countries and cancel all spring mountaineering expeditions, including Everest ascents.

The decision comes a day after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and urged countries to take precautionary measures.

The visa suspension, which excludes diplomatic and official visas, will come into effect on March 14 and last until April 30, a government official told the Post on condition of anonymity.

A high-level coordination committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defiance Minister Ishwar Pokhrel took the decision to this effect on Thursday.

The meeting also decided to restrict traveler movement to and from India via land routes and adhere to strict quarantine measures at the border. No decision has been made to close down schools and colleges.

In case of emergency, any foreigners wishing to come to Nepal will need to submit a medical certificate declaring that they are free of the corona virus while applying at Nepal’s consulate in their respective countries,” the official said. “The government has also decided not to issue visas for tourists entering Nepal via land routes.

According to the official, all spring expeditions, including Everest, have been cancelled.The decision effectively puts an end to the lucrative spring climbing season, which is when most Everest attempts take place. Mountaineers generally apply for Everest permits from the end of March. The spring season begins in early April as hordes of climbers start trekking for the Everest region. From hotels to restaurants, guides to potters, and airlines to helicopters, all eagerly await the spring climbing season as it generates much-needed income and jobs for the mountainous region.The government alone earns around $4 million by issuing Everest climbing permits every year. The two-week summit window normally begins in the second week of May. Millions of dollars in income are expected to be wiped out from the market if the Spring ascents are called off. In the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, China has already cancelled all Everest expeditions from the Tibetan side.The China Tibet Mountaineering Association, the body that issues climbing permits, notified expeditions on Wednesday that all Everest ascents from the northern side had been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Countries across the world are stepping up measures and revising travel advisories to control the virus spread.

Last year, the department had issued permits for 1,024 climbers, including 382 foreigners. Among them, 644 climbers reached the top.

Asian Hiking Team

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