Delay in opening BIA creating unwanted doubts among tourists
By Thameenah Razeek
The delay in the opening of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for tourism has created an unwanted doubt among tourists regarding the current situation in the country, concerning COVID-19, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, S. Hettiarachchi said.
He said most tourists and business folk are wondering why the Government is delaying the reopening of the Airport for tourism even after the health authorities have given the green light to open airports.
It was also noted there could be a decrease in the number of tourists that are hoping to visit the country due to the postponement of the re-opening of airports for tourism. However, Hettiarachchi noted, they will convene a meeting as soon as the new Minister in charge assumes duty.
“We will prioritise this issue once the new Minister assumes duty and this will be the first issue we will discuss. Accordingly, we will look forward to re-opening the BIA at least before October,” he said.
Hettiarachchi also pointed out, representatives of the hotel industry, including hotel owners, were finding it difficult to register bookings and reservations for their hotels for tourists and other businessmen at good rates because the Government is yet to announce the date of the re-opening.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Airport and Aviation Services, retired Major General G.A. Chandrasiri said, even though the airports are closed for tourists, the repatriation process will continue. More than 1,000 individuals are in the process of being repatriated from other countries and there is a small income from this for the Airport but the losses faced during the quarantine and lockdown period are yet to be recovered, he noted.