Sri Lanka will adopt less strict procedures on foreign travellers but try to ensure that they remain within ‘bubbles’ to prevent the risk of contagion. The country will not enforce minimum stays or strict quarantine requirements on foreign travellers. The industry has been given the go-ahead by the President as and when the airports open.
Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Kimarli Fernando said, “It is not a strict procedure that we have. Just stay in your bubble”.
The Chairman was speaking at the ‘Ramayan Yathra’ event on January 12, organized by tourist stakeholders. Sri Lanka, unlike other international destinations, will not enforce minimum stays, mandatory quarantines, and or periods of isolation for incoming tourists.
Foreigners will be able to obtain 3-month visas online. 131 hotels have already been certified as being safe and 36 have been certified as safe tier level 1.
Hotels that are certified tier level 1 through the KPMG process will be the first to accept foreign tourists but will have to give up their business that caters to locals.
The Chairman noted that the leisure sector was yet to be the source of a COVID-19 cluster and the authorities wished to keep it that way.
Foreign travellers will be able to travel freely between tier 1 hotels. The Tourism Development Authority has arranged 14 designated sites that tourists can travel to inclusive of popular destinations such as Sinharaja, Yala, and Whale Watching. More activities can be arranged with prior notice to isolate the local community from the travellers. Foreign travellers will not be able to use public transport.
All stops will be pre-planned and documented by the travel guides. Tourists on arrival waiting on the result of PCR tests will not have to isolate but will be politely requested to do so.
In the instance, travellers found to be COVID-19 positive, they will remain isolated within the property that they currently are in. If required, they will be transferred to a private hospital. Travellers will have to obtain insurance for the costs of hospitalization. People’s Insurance will offer a monthly cover for US$ 12.
The Chairman had met with the Indian External Affairs Minister and the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka both of whom were adamant to resume travel linkages between the two countries.