Sri Lanka is expecting the first tourists from Germany and Dubai after Colombo and Mattala airports re-opened for tourists from January 21, with a daily ceiling of 2,500 tourists raising the possibility of getting a million visitors in 2021, officials said.
The Department of Immigration had issued 75 visas on the first few hours of January 21 for tourists, from America, Germany, Middle East and China, Sri Lanka Tourism Chief, Kimarli Fernando said.
“The first guests are coming on SriLankan and Qatar from Germany. We are bringing via Emirates from Dubai. Not big numbers but we have to make a start,” Kimarli Fernando also said
Based on the daily ceiling of 2,500 passengers, about a million tourists was a possibility for 2021 Fernando said, as numbers pick up, though no specific target had been set.
SriLankan Airlines is planning to start flights to Moscow in a bid to capture the tail end of the winter season in February, Chairman Ashok Pathirage said.
He said already about 30 passengers per flight were seen placing bookings.
Sri Lanka is allocating the 2,500 tourists among nine scheduled carriers, with SriLankan Airlines, which is operating the most flights a day getting the biggest allocation.
“We will manage it dynamically,” Director General of Civil Aviation, Themiya Abeywickrema said.
SriLankan, Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, China Eastern, Oman Airlines, Singapore and Kuwait Airways, which have been flying to Sri Lanka before the Covid-19 pandemic, are resuming operations.
Maldivian and Ethiopian Airlines had also been given the go ahead. New airlines from Pakistan, Bangladesh had also applied.