Sri Lanka Tourism ‘Back in Business’
By Mario Andree
After ten months of not welcoming any tourists into the country, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka says that it is back in business and is ready to greet international travellers.
Addressing Journalists in Colombo, Minister for Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga said, “from 21 January (yesterday) we are welcoming international travellers into our motherland on a special bio-bubble model.”
It was noted by a panel of members that the country expects nearly one million tourists by end of this year, after seeing its numbers dwindle in 2020 due to the unfortunate pandemic.
“At the moment we have the capacity of welcoming nearly 2,500 tourists into the country per day due to the number of PCR tests that can be conducted,” said Sri Lanka Tourism’s Chairperson Kimarli Fernando.
However, according to her once the number of tests that can be done a day increases they would consider allowing more visitors into the country.
Since the country partially opened it borders for visitors in December, nearly 1,500 visitors have arrived in the country, she said. Without providing adequate time for the Journalists to clarify matters on how the process would work, the relevant stakeholders and decision makers said that Sri Lanka is opening the borders for international visitors under certain guidelines and processes to ensure the health and safety of both the travellers and the local community.Key highlights of the process in place are that Sri Lanka does not require a minimum number of days to stay and offers ‘Quarantine-free’ visitor experience where the visitors are allowed to enjoy all facilities in their respective hotels including the swimming pools, spas, gyms etc.
However, the only requirement put in place for the safety of the traveller, tourism stakeholders and Sri Lankan community is the need for the travellers to stay at a ‘Safe and Secure’ certified, Level 1 hotel or hotels in the initial 14 days of their stay.
This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the international visitors assuring the safety of the local communities, employees of the industry and the visitors to the country.
The respective hotels and accommodation providers along with the travel agents and tour operators will be entrusted with ensuring that visitors don’t break the bubble of safety.
Sri Lanka Tourism has created an information portal on www.srilanka.travel/helloagain which will carry all relevant notices, updated safety protocols and processes, marketing material and important contact information.
The visitors and industry stakeholders are requested to frequently visit the site and to be aware of the updates and requirements.
Also, a 24-hour operational centre has been set up by Sri Lanka Tourism to coordinate the operations and to support the industry with all clarifications and coordination support. The Centre can be contacted through the hotline 1912 and emailed through [email protected]
The Ministry of Tourism and Sri Lanka Tourism have worked very closely with the Ministry of Health and the COVID Task Force in setting the guidelines and putting in the protocols in place.
They are also working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority, Airport and Aviation, and Department of Immigration and Emigration and with the industry stakeholders in adopting these protocols to ensure that Sri Lanka is open and open in the right way.