After an outrage on social media regarding the visa fees for stranded tourists, the Department of Immigration Director-General Ramesh Kumar KC has announced that those stranded in Nepal due to the lockdown resulted in the Covid-19 outbreak are not required to pay for a visa extension. However, they are obligated to leave 2 weeks after the regular operation of international flight services.
The Immigration Department was re-opened after June 15 along with various other government departments. Since the date, approximately 300 tourists have already paid for their visa extension.
The final decision to call-off the visa extension fee came after a bunch of confusing announcements and continuous pressure from the Nepal Tourism Board. The tourists demanded clear instructions. Some were even disappointed that they needed to visit the Immigration Department to get their visa extended instead of making it available at the airport.
“A separate decision would be taken about those who had already paid visa extension fees”, said the Immigration Director-General Ramesh Kumar KC.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 foreigners are still stuck in Nepal. With the regulation of rescue flights upon the request of different embassies in Nepal, the number of stranded tourists are declining. Thanks to the #StrandedInNepal project and private groups who contributed to the rescue.
The locals at different travel destinations did their part to help the stranded as well. Most of the hotels with tourists did not charge for some extra weeks as a helping gesture. Some even provided free foods.
“Even during this critical situation, we feel safe in Nepal. The people around here make us feel home and secure. If we ever have to be stuck again in another country, we wish it’d be Nepal”, said a German couple at Pokhara who had planned to trek the Annapurna Circuit. Unfortunately, they will have to wait for a better time.