Due to the rapid and successful COVID-19 vaccination process, Sri Lanka has been able to move away from ‘Red’ to ‘Amber list’ in some of the European countries.
Three main Euro countries, Germany, France and Netherlands have now placed Sri Lanka on the Amber list from an earlier red listing.
“This is a major positive step towards re-opening the country for tourism,” President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) Sanath Ukwatte said. He added that when a country is on a red list, tourists are reluctant to come and if they do come they have to be quarantined in their country when they go back.
“But when a country is in Amber this is not needed and it’s an encouragement for them to travel. Last month Sri Lanka along with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bahrain, Egypt, Sudan and Trinidad and Tobago were also placed on the red list due to escalating C-19 cases by many countries. We must thank the government for flying down the vaccines and speeding up the vaccination process not only in the Western Province but all over Sri Lanka,” he also said.
This has prompted Germany, France and Netherlands to lower ‘rating’ which will have a positive impact on the tourism sector. He said that they also are waiting to welcome Indian travellers who have received the double C19 jab to Sri Lanka.
He however said that the government must now come out with a plan to vaccinate the under 30 years of age people as well.
“In the travel sector over 35% of staff are in this group and currently they are unable to get vaccinated and this is an area for concern,” he noted.
Meanwhile, veteran hotelier Chairman, Theme Resorts and Spas, Chandra Wickramasinghe, while welcoming the ‘amber’ label, said that it would be a good selling point to market Sri Lanka again.
“However Sri Lanka should re-look at the airport entry and exit PCR testing regulation. Firstly charging USD 40 plus (Rs. 8,000) for a PCR is a complete ‘daylight robbery’ when you can get a PCR done for around Rs. 2,500. And why should we do a PCR and charge the same amount when they are leaving. This is absurd and stupid!” he also said.
The hotel sector assists C-19 recovery providing 4,000 beds
“The hotel sector has played a key role in finding ‘beds’ for COVID-19 patients and currently over 4,000 hotel beds have been given. These include around 1,000 beds from Cinnamon Red, OZO Colombo, Mount Lavinia Hotel, Miraj Wellawatta and similar hotels,” said President THASL, Sanath Ukwatte.
“This is a ‘win win’ situation for both the health and tourism sector as the process has ensured a cash flow to hotels while it’s also helping to reduce the congestion over hospital beds. We have now observed an additional demand for more beds and are ready to offer them mostly from outside Western provinces,” he also said.
He requested hotels located outside Colombo to contact THASL, private hospitals or PHI’s in the area or the national COVID-19 protection centre to help in the process.