Reopening the tourism sector to foreigners, Sri Lanka will allow tourists who have taken both COVID-19 insulations to visit the country and also roam freely without additional quarantine regulations.
This will also be extended to Sri Lankans based overseas and planning to visit the country. They will only be subjected to one PCR test upon arrival, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism, Kimarli Fernando said at the Key Persons Forum organized by Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on Wednesday.
She said the health authorities have identified that people who take the vaccine 14 days prior to their arrival carry a minimum risk of spreading the virus and hence they could travel freely.
“There will not be any minimum stay period, or any specific hotel regulation for them. However they will have to prove that both doses of the vaccination were taken from authentic source,” she stated.
She however said that there may be some restrictions for European nations that have new virus variants for which the vaccine may not be effective.
She also added that other tourists should follow the usual procedure spelt out earlier and could stay in the 350 safe and secure certified hotels and travel in the bubble to 19 approved sites.
Usual visa procedure rules will apply for both segments of tourists. She also said that discussions were ongoing to explore the possibility of opening up Sri Lanka to attract Indian tourists under the bubble concept. Mrs. Fernando also said that Sri Lanka’s true potential for tourism has not been marketed properly by earlier administrations and new strategies would be put in place to woo up market tourists in the future. “We have to pitch higher and reposition Sri Lanka,” she noted.
Answering a query from Gem and Jewellery stakeholder in the audience on around 30% commission demanded by travel guides when bringing tourists to gem shops and even spice gardens, she ensured this process would be stopped and a zero commission structure would be introduced, stating, “We will come up with a system where the guide would be working on a salary/Incentive basis”.
She also appealed from gem and jewellery stakeholders to ensure that quality and fair priced items are offered to tourists as there have been many complaints that tourists were ripped off and cheated by local jewellers giving a negative image to Sri Lanka.
A new APP is being designed with the assistance from the World Bank, police and other authorities to protect tourists and also keep a tab on their activities.
Ministerof Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunge promised to work closely with the industry stakeholders and ensured they will work closely to market the next FACETS exhibition next January.