Sri Lanka is now allowing fully vaccinated international travellers to enter the country without undergoing quarantine, as the country looks to restart its tourism engine.
Vaccinated tourists are required to only spend 24 hours in a dedicated hotel facility to await their on-arrival PCR test results. Once they test negative, they will be allowed to leave the hotel and go about their activities. On the other hand, non-vaccinated tourists have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a safe and certified hotel.
Meanwhile, tourism authorities are forging ahead with a campaign to inoculate all tourism industry workers by October. Sri Lanka’s vaccination rollout campaign is also speedily moving ahead, with plans to complete vaccinating all those above 30 years of age by September.
Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, the state tourism promotion agency, said that with the success of the national vaccination rollout programme, Sri Lanka is ready to welcome fully-vaccinated foreign travellers while ensuring the safety and security of local communities.
Sri Lanka Hotels Association president Sanath Ukwatte, while welcoming the relaxation for fully vaccinated visitors, urged the authorities to further ease restrictions at restaurants which are now limited to 25 per cent capacity.
The national tourism agency is also working together with national carrier SriLankan Airlines to launch a buy-one-get-one-free air ticket campaign next month across 18 key markets. They are the UK, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and the Maldives, according to sources at the national carrier.
As of June 30, 16,908 tourists have visited Sri Lanka this year, a decline of 96.7 per cent over last year where 507,311 tourists visited the country from January to March 18 (the day the airport was closed to inbound travellers owing to the pandemic).
According to official data, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Germany, China and India were Sri Lanka’s top five source markets from January to June this year. Leading the pack was Kazakhstan which contributed to 19 per cent of the total traffic, followed by Ukraine (16 per cent), Germany (nine per cent), China (seven per cent) and India (six per cent).
Sri Lanka Tourism’s Fernando said that the CIS markets are “low-hanging fruits” as the countries have no travel restrictions and have limited warm weather destination options currently.
Last week, the government relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, allowing restaurants, bars, shopping malls, wildlife parks and other places of tourist interest to open amid the steady rollout of the vaccination drive.
As of July 18, Sri Lanka recorded 283,512 Covid-19 cases and 3,733 deaths.