With the opening of airports for tourists from yesterday, January 21, almost after 10 months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka will target over 1. 5 million arrivals for 2021, says Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism at a meeting held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
“We expect around 2,000 plus arrivals a day with numbers gradually expected to increase. As we open our doors to the world once again, Sri Lanka Tourism has pulled out all the stops, ensuring that every precautionary measure has been set in place to make the island getaway as safe, secure and serene as possible for the visitors,” she said.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sri Lanka Tourism has worked very closely with the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task force in setting the guidelines and putting the protocols in place. Also, working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority, Airport & Aviation, and Department of Immigration & Emigration and with the industry stakeholders in adapting these protocols to ensure that Sri Lanka is open and open in the right way.
She also said that all hotels have to leave 2% for medical staff and for health emergencies.
All tourists have to pay a visa fee of USD 35 and USD 12 Insurance cover with Peoples Insurance Corporation (Cover value USD 50,000) and pay up front for three PCR tests to be done in Sri Lanka. Five private hospitals have agreed to do PCR tests in hotels at the rate of Rs. 7,500 each however the Indian travelers planning to visit Sri Lanka have stated that this amount is higher than the charge in India.
Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunge said that most of the airlines, which flew to Sri Lanka before the C-19 pandemic, have said they will fly back soon.
The Minister also thanked the President, Prime Minister and former Ambassador Udayanga Weeratunge for launching the Ukraine tourism pilot project. As Sri Lanka opens the borders for international visitors detailed safety protocols and processes have been put in place to ensure health and safety of both the travelers and the local community to stop the spread of the virus from one to another.
Chairman of Tourism Advisory Committee, Hiran Cooray said that since more than 3 million are dependent on tourism, opening Sri Lanka for international customers was timely. He said that the Sri Lanka tourism sector suffered badly during the Easter Sunday attacks at a time when world tourism was doing well and Sri Lankans must thank the health authorities for their guidance to place the country well above countries like the UK and USA in covid-19 management.
“This should be marked more aggressively to bring additional travelers to Sri Lanka as the island is now doing well in C-19 management while globally many countries were not doing well in this regard,” he also highlighted.