Nepal has opened Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks from Thursday after nearly 5-month closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Tourism Department official confirmed.
All spring season expeditions that typically last from March to May were suspended within the wake of the pandemic.
The government had halted the issuance of climbing permits for expeditions and canceled issued permits for the spring season 2020 on March 13.
An expedition to Everest usually takes 45 to 90 days, a brief climbing window, depending on favorable weather, and usually falls after mid-May.
“The mountains are now open for mountaineers and the department has started issuing climbing permits starting today (Thursday),” said Mira Acharya, director at the Department of Tourism (DoT).
The country has opened 414 peaks for mountaineering purposes.
In line with the relief of economic activities, the govt. has allowed hotels, restaurants, trekking, and mountaineering services to resume operations from Thursday.
Nepal bags over $4 million as royalty from climbers annually.
The DoT collects $5,500 as a climbing permit fee for Mount Everest’s normal route and $5,000 for the other route during autumn.
As the country is gearing up to resume international flights, it’s expecting tourists for the autumn season.
“The quarantine modality remains under discussion due to which we are unable to project the flow of climbers into the country,” Acharya told Xinhua.
The Himalayan nation has so far reported 19,273 coronavirus cases, with 49 deaths.
(With Inputs From IANS)