Sri Lanka formulating plans to reopen airport for tourists from January

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is in the process of formulating a process to resume international tourism in a COVID-19 safe environment, the Daily FT reported.

SLTDA Chairperson Kirmali Fernando said guidelines are being finalised with a draft strategy document under discussion among key stakeholders.

Under the draft strategy, it has been proposed to reopen both international airports for foreign tourists with effect from 1 January.

Fernando said a comprehensive set of guidelines in this regard have been submitted for approval of health authorities.

The protocol which will be regularly reviewed by the Health Ministry, includes a mandatory 14 days stay, with a confirmed itinerary required as a mandatory section of the online visa process via Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system.

Visas are to be granted for visitors with pre-booked and pre-paid booking, limiting them to Level 1 hotels that are certified during the 14-days quarantine period.

Tourists staying longer than 14 days will be permitted to stay in Level 2 accommodation which will be KPMG Certified Safe and Secure accommodation and will be permitted to visit selected tourist sites accompanied by a registered Tourist guide.

Tourists staying longer than 28 days are free to book any type of accommodation registered with the SLTDA.

Kirmali Fernando said long-stay travellers, dual passport holders or Sri Lankan passport holders travelling with international tourists in a group, resident permit holders, film tourism and sports tourism visa types will be considered according to the guidelines.

All visitors will be advised to download the ‘Visit Sri Lanka App’ incorporated in the Immigration and Emigration online visa application, which is pending Cabinet approval, as all Sri Lanka Tourism Certified Level 1 and Level 2 establishments will be linked to the website.

The guidelines also require all passengers to obtain a mandatory COVID-19 insurance online during the visa application process from a local insurance company for a minimum period of one month, as no expenses relating to any health will be borne by the Government during the stay in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, a proposal has been made to the Cabinet of Ministers to issue visas for six months instead of the current one month.

Fernando further said that a mandatory PCR test report taken 72-hours before arrival along with the Health Declaration Form (HDF) of Sri Lanka should be submitted by all passengers at the port of entry. On arrival, Antigen test and/or PCR test will be conducted at the airport by the Ministry of Health and/or private hospitals.

As per the guidelines formulated by the SLTDA, tourists will not be allowed to use public transportation and the responsibility of travel from airport to certified hotels will be arranged by the certified hotelier or travel agent. (NewsWire)