POKHARA: JULY 20 – No one has data on the number of foreign tourists in Pokhara. Tourism-related organizations have estimated that around 400 tourists are stranded. Tourists who came last year were stranded here because of the lockdown. It was not possible to add a visa during the lockdown period, nor was it possible to go anywhere. Tourists were also detained at the hotel where they were staying. Now the lockdown has eased a bit. The government issued an order to add visas and pay fines, including late fees if the stay was longer than specified.
Some time ago, the government issued a notice stating that it would renew the lockdown period visa free of cost. Apart from that, tourists who want to stay in Nepal should apply immediately and those who want to leave after July 16 will be charged a visa fee, delay fees and fines. According to the tourist visa, a tourist can stay in Nepal for only 150 days a year. By amending that, the government increased the visa period to 210 days. Despite the extension, tourists have to leave Nepal immediately due to this rule. Due to the high risk of coronavirus, it makes difficult for them to return home.
Tourists are trapped in a double whammy of Nepal’s rules and the COVID-19 transition. Marta, an Italian tourist who is stuck in Pokhara, said that she will stay in Nepal without any penalty until the situation improves. She arrived in Nepal in February 2020. “I am not in a position to return home. “We have a problem with such a rule,” she said. “Hundreds of tourists like her are now stranded.” After meeting the journalists, the tourists requested the government to show tourist-friendly behaviour.
Tourists have become angry with the Nepali government after they started charging fees as per government rules. Now there are tourists from Italy, the USA, Sweden and other countries. Chairman of the Pokhara Tourism Council Gopi Bhattarai says that the government should facilitate the tourists who have been stopped due to the lockdown. He said he did not know the tourists were in pain. “It simply came to our notice then. We will facilitate any complaint, ‘he said.’ The government should pave the way for tourists. Otherwise, a negative message could be sent. ‘
From April 29 to July 19, 707 tourists have added visas. According to the Immigration Office, Pokhara, 965 visas have been added for tourists and others. Chief of the Immigration Pokhara Office, Pramila Gautam, said that the visit visa and the visa issued after marriage are the same with the tourists.
According to him, more than 12 million rupees has been collected for the addition of visas. ‘Looking at most of the visas, it seems that they can only stay till July 29. Tourists