Tourism Minister sends Pilot Project’s Health Guidelines to SLTDA
By Anjali Caldera
Health Guidelines to be followed for the Tourism Pilot Project, from 27 December 2020 to 19 January 2021, were issued two days ago and the Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunga sent a draft to Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kirmali Fernando.
Accordingly, visas for all international tourists who wish to visit Sri Lanka under the pilot project should be processed online. Tourists are to arrive on charter flights, scheduled flights or private jets to Katunayake and Mattala airports and a maximum of only 300 passengers are allowed to visit the country per day. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should be responsible in this regard, ensuring the number of daily arrivals does not exceed capacity. Special arrangements for flight crews are to be agreed in advance with the CAA and Airport Aviation Authority (AAA). It is also noted that these guidelines exclude business visas.
Undergoing two PCR tests have been made mandatory as well as COVID-19 insurance through the Tourism Mobile App or at time of the hotel booking or airline ticket purchase. Details of the international traveller should be sent to the local Medical Officer of Health (MOH) when issuing visas.
Furthermore, it is mandatory for every guest to stay a minimum of seven days unless there is a prior approval from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) for shorter number of stays than mentioned. First seven days of the stay should be in one of the certified safe and secure hotels or hotels approved by the COVID-19 Taskforce.
Prepaid hotel booking had been made compulsory and as requested by Sri Lanka Tourism, PCR tests should be done prior to checking in at the hotel by a private sector hospital arranged by the hotel, carried out by a Laboratory approved by the Health Ministry. In the event the tourist is extending their stay, an additional PCR test should be conducted between 10-14 days of arrival as decided by the MOH.
If the first PCR test is negative, the tourists are allowed to visit the identified sites approved by the COVID Taskforce; under a bio security bubble.
Regarding the transportation of the guests, the Ministry of Tourism has recommended the hotelier or travel agent to arrange independent transport for each group of tourists, without mixing the tour groups. All the transport details should be provided to the local MOH and to the National Operations Centre for Control of COVID-19 for contact tracing.
Meanwhile, it is said that the hotel should keep the level of occupancy at the recommended 75 per cent, with the rest to be reserved for isolation purpose if an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive guest is identified.
Furthermore, the hotel should ensure that international guests won’t interact with the public in their first seven days of stay. Therefore, domestic guests should not be accommodated during the first seven-day period. Hotels are also not allowed to host functions for local guests. The hotels should not allow its staff to interact with guests in any form and provide staffers with accommodation for 14 days if they come into contact with guests; to reduce the risk of infection spreading to the community though the staff. They should be screened for COVID-19 at regular intervals as per the existing Occupational Health Guidelines published by the Ministry of Health.