SL opens up for biggest tourist source market India

  • Health Ministry announces favourable rules effective from yesterday but with COVID safety guidelines
  • SriLankan Airlines to launch passenger flights immediately to Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai
  • Delhi and Hyderabad to follow suit

The Government has decided to facilitate tourists from India after three months, subject to strict health guidelines and prior approvals.

In May, Indian tourists were restricted due to the surge in COVID-19 cases with the highly-infectious Delta variant. India is the biggest tourist source market for Sri Lanka.

According to the latest Health Ministry quarantine guidelines effective from 12 August, fully-vaccinated foreign nationals arriving from India, including transits, are required to obtain prior approval from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Indian tourists will also be subject to mandatory PCR tests.

National Carrier SriLankan Airlines yesterday said it would immediately include passenger flights to three operating cities, whilst plans are underway to add two more destinations in the near future.

“Currently, the airline operates three cargo flights to Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. We hope to include passenger flights to these three destinations immediately,” SriLankan Airlines Worldwide Sales and Distribution Head Dimuthu Tennakoon told the Daily FT.

He also said that plans were underway to add two more passenger flights to Delhi and Hyderabad in the near future.

In the first seven months of this year there have been 1,127 Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka though down by 99% from the corresponding period of last year. However, India still remains the sixth source market with 8% of the total arrivals.

In 2020, Sri Lanka entertained 89,357 Indian tourists and in 2019 the figure was 355,002 whilst the highest was the tourism industry›s best year in 2018 which amounted to 424,887.