Sri Lanka will once again welcome tourists on January 21, this time under a bio bubble, following a successful pilot programme to assess the country’s capability in managing tourists under a bio bubble amid the pandemic.
A daily limit of 2,500 inbound tourists has been set. While tourists do not need to undergo mandatory quarantine, they have to abide by a strict set of rules. Travellers must obtain their visas online along with confirmed hotel booking, pre-purchased PCR tests and mandatory Covid-19 insurance coverage of US$50,000 on hospitalisation or medical bills for a month. They must also produce a valid PCR test taken 96 hours before arrival.
Vaccination will not exempt travellers from these health and safety protocols.
The first PCR test on Sri Lankan soil will be conducted on arrival at the hotel; the second will come five to seven days later or when symptoms develop; and the third will be conducted 10 to 14 days of their stay.
Travellers staying in Sri Lanka for more than a week will need to pay for all three tests ahead of time, with each costing US$40.
Under the bio bubble, all arriving travellers must stay in one of 40 certified hotels for the first 14 days of their trip. These hotels will not accept any local guests nor local events. After this period, travellers are free to move to their hotel of choice and mingle with locals.
During this same period, travellers are restricted to only 14 attractions and tourist sites.
With the reopening of Sri Lanka’s borders, scheduled flights by key airlines such as SriLankan Airlines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines will resume from January 21.
Sri Lanka Tourism officials said the first arriving tourists were likely to be a group of Germans who would come through Bandaranaike International Airport.