Following in the footsteps of many other countries, Sri Lanka has placed an entry ban on travellers from six African countries with reported Omicron variant infections.
Travellers with a 14-day history of travel to those countries will also be prohibited from entry.
National carrier SriLankan Airlines has affirmed its continued operations to Kenya, which has so far not been affected by the new variant.
Despite the cautious footing, local health officials said they were not changing the guidelines for travellers from other countries. Currently, fully-vaccinated visitors to Sri Lanka need to present a PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, and are not subject to any tests on arrival.
Maintenance of current health guidelines is an assurance for the Sri Lankan tourism community, which has been jittery over possible business recovery disruptions as a result of Omicron.
On November 30, tourism minister Prasanna Ranatunga urged the industry not to panic, and assured them that current proactive measures were adequate to mitigate risk posed by travellers from other parts of the world.
“Europe and the Middle East have promptly banned entries from these six countries. These two regions are popular gateways for passengers or transit passengers to Sri Lanka. Therefore, (along with Sri Lanka’s entry ban on travellers from affected African countries) there is no need to overreact to the situation,” Ranatunga told the Daily Financial Times.
On Monday, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators issued a joint statement urging the authorities to not alter current health protocols, so as to avoid endangering the beleaguered Sri Lankan tourism industry and negatively impacting the national economy.