Sri Lankan government confident in attracting 1.5 million tourists this year
The government of Sri Lanka has reportedly expressed confidence in attracting 1.5 million tourists this year with the re-opening of the airports in two weeks’ time in compliance with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has been quoted in the local media as saying that all airports will be re-opened for commercial flights and international tourists from 23 January, which will be preceded by a soft opening on 21 January.
“We hope to attract 1.5 million tourists this year with implementation of proper COVID-19 health and safety guidelines,” the Minister has told journalists.
Last year tourist arrivals were estimated at 508,000 with most of them arriving prior to the closure of the airport in mid-March when the country’s borders were closed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Daily FT has reported.
In 2019, Sri Lanka has attracted 1.9 million tourists, which is a decline from a record 2.3 million in 2018.
The Minister has reportedly noted that all incoming tourists will be subject to PCR tests, 14-day minimum stay and live in predetermined travel bubble areas and in 131 certified hotels.
“Be it group tourists or the free independent travellers (FIT), all will be allowed only to move about within the travel corridors subject to negative PCR test results,” the Minister has added.
The final guidelines for the tourists and hotels are to be issued this week.
Sri Lanka Tourism is to hold a special awareness meeting with all foreign missions in Sri Lanka and industry stakeholders to update on the latest developments on reopening country’s borders.
According to Ranatunga, the circulars and regulations will be changed from time to time to suit the country’s requirements and conditions.
The Sri Lankan authorities have also identified 14 tourist attraction sites exclusive for visiting tourists to patronise under controlled arrangements. These include; Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Yala National Park, Udawalawe National Park Safari, Eth Athuru Sewana, Kaudulla National Park, Mirissa Whale Watching, Pinnawala Open Zoo, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sigiriya Fortress, Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple, Royal Botanic Garden in Peradeniya, Laksala Kandy and Pinnawala branches.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is on the path to revival with the government’s move to launch a pilot project to bring down tourists to the country and with the latest decision to fully reopen airports by the 21st of this month. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the country until the Covid 19 pandemic affected global travel. However, Sri Lanka continues to be a travel destination in the post Covid scenario since the island has been listed as a must visit destination by several leading global travel publications and the country receiving the safety and hygienic certification. Hence, business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry will once again witness a growth enabling the industry to become a fast expanding sector. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
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