Sri Lanka tourism is grappling with the idea of re-opening the sector by allowing a small number of tourists initially, starting August. This debunks the local news claiming that the country will re-open in mid-June.
India, it’s immediate neighbor, is the largest traffic for tourists in Sri Lanka, with 425,000 Indian tourists visiting the country in 2018. The next year, that is 2019, tourism faced a hit, after the April 21 terror attack in hotels and churches in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.
According to Reuters, chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Kimali Fernando denied the Sunday Time’s claim of tourism re-opening in mid-June and insisted the country is looking forward to August for allowing tourists, that too in few numbers initially.
Fernando also told the small number of tourists coming from around the world will be allowed to stay in approved five-star hotels with strict hygiene and safety protocols in place.
The country is reportedly holding many reservations for tourists who will arrive from around the world. They’re including, but not restricted to as followed:
- No individual tourists will be allowed to enter the nation.
- Tourists will need to carry a COVID-19-free certificate from a respective authority or their governments.
- There will on-arrival coronavirus testing at the airport.
- Two airports: Bandaranaike International Airport and Mattala International Airport will be functional, partially
- Tourists won’t be allowed to get off busses midway journey
- Only selected destination will be opened where there is less crowd
- Temperatures of the tourists will be monitored daily
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Tourism season starts from November in Sri Lanka and the country’s Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiaarachchi told that popular destinations like some beaches, Yala national park, Trincomalee, and Udawalawe, Arugam Bay will be opened initially.
Coronavirus and Sri Lanka tourism
Tourism is a significant contributor to Sri Lanka’s GDP with as much as 11%. Last year the island-nation attracted 2 million tourists in 2018. This year, Sri Lanka tourism was estimated to earn $5billion in revenue. Owing to global travel restrictions 450k tourist workers have lost their jobs to the Pandemic.
Popular travel destinations like national parks and tourist spots have shut down, throwing temporary and contract workers out of employment according to reports.
Sri Lanka has so far recorded 1,633 cases and 10 deaths from novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan last year. Global cases of the infection are racing to touch 6 million.