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Sri Lanka poised to welcome back tourists

Sri Lanka ready to welcome back tourists

Elephants bathing at sunset (Photo courtesy Givaga/Shutterstock).

Sri Lanka is poised to welcome back international visitors from August 1. However, the reopening of the island will be conducted under strict guidelines, including multiple coronavirus tests.

The country will be welcoming all travellers, including groups, families or individuals.

Sri Lanka has suffered a testing twelve months following the decimation of its tourist industry in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019. Two-hundred-and-seventy-nine people were killed, including 45 tourists. Tourism numbers plunged from 2.33 million in 2018 to 1.91 million last year.

Travellers planning to enter Sri Lanka from August 1 must carry a COVID-19-free certificate that has been issued no earlier than 72-hours before travel.

A further test will then be conducted on arrival and another test four to five days later. A fourth test will be required for visitors staying for more than ten days. If the results for the test at the arrival airport takes more than 24-hours, then guests will be expected to check into a government-approved four- or five-star hotel for the night. Transport arrangements must be made with the hotel.

If the test returns a positive result, quarantine will be arranged in a designated hotel or the visitor will be taken to hospital, depending on the severity of the case. Quarantine will run for 14 to 21 days.

“While this may be inconvenient it is essential to safeguard everybody and provide peace of mind,” said Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry in a statement.

Further restrictions include a minimum-stay rule of five days and tourists can only stay in accommodation approved by the government. Travellers will not be allowed to use any form of public transport and there will be a regular visa price increase from US$40 to US$100. 

In order to apply for a visa, visitors must be able to supply booking details of government certified accommodation, an itinerary, a return ticket and proof of medical insurance. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be required prior to boarding.

Colombo Ratmalana Airport, Bandaranaike International Airport and Mattala International Airport will partially reopen with testing centres once the government approves the reopening plans. 

Sri Lanka has so far recorded 1,869 cases of coronavirus and 11 deaths.


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