SRI LANKA TOURISM IN THE COVID19 ERA
‘Quarantine free’ visitor experience offered
(March 12, 2021) Sri Lanka opened its borders for international visitors with a simple but effective safety protocol which allowed basic procedures to be in place to ensure the health and safety of both the travellers and the local community, whilst ensuring travellers are able to experience their destination substantially.
Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (pictured right) stated that “the revival of the tourism sector is our primary focus. In doing so, we proposed the special vaccination programme, with the support of the tourism and health ministry’s we will implement the project. We aim to safeguard the stakeholders of the industry and work towards a fairly normal set-up”
Some of the key highlights of the measures are that Sri Lanka does not require a minimum number of days to stay and offers ‘Quarantine free’ visitor experience where the visitors are allowed to enjoy all facilities in their respective hotels including the swimming pools, spas, gym etc. However, the only mandatory requirement is that travellers ensure to stay at ‘Safe and Secure’ certified Level 1 hotel or hotels in the initial 14 days of their stay. This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the visitor assuring the safety of the local community and employees of the tourist industry. The respective hotels and accommodation providers along with the travel agents and tour operators will be entrusted to ensure that visitors don’t break the safety of the bubble.
PCR tests are a requirement of the Sri Lanka Government whilst entering the country. Travellers who have taken the vaccination will still require to have a PCR test. The PCR testing is supposed to be taken 96 hours before boarding. A negative test is mandatory to travel to Sri Lanka. Another on arrival and another on 5-7 days in to the trip or if symptoms show will be conducted. Final PCR test will be carried out at the end of the 14 day stay before the visitor is allowed to engage with the local community. However, there is no minimum requirement of days of stay during travel. The traveller should pre-book PCR tests and accommodation specifically. Travellers are expected to have a Covid19 travel insurance of $12 USD for a policy that is of $50,000 for per month.
Safe and Secure Hotels
These are hotels or accommodation providers who comply with the COVID-19 Health Protocols and the Tourism Operational Guidelines (visit srilanka.travel for details of the Tourism Operational Guidelines issued). The hotels have been subjected to an audit by an independent audit firm and will be continually assessed. The ‘Safe and Secure’ certificate is issued with a QR code unique to each certified hotel. By scanning the QR code using a smartphone, visitors can check the key information of the certified hotel.
From all the ‘Safe & Secure’ certified hotels, “Safe and Secure Level 1” are the accommodation service providers who will provide accommodation services exclusively for international tourists during the first 14 days of their stay. The level 1 hotels cannot accept bookings from locals and also are not allowed to hold any events or banquet functions for locals. Visit www.srilanka.travel/helloagain for the complete updated list of Level 1 hotels.
• The approved sites include 18 sites to choose from;
Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa,(pictured below) Sigiriya, (pictured top) National reserves and whale watching are included.
• The travellers are to plan their trips with certified guides.
• Pre-planning is key and socializing locals and other travellers is high discouraged.
Sri Lanka has a population of over 21 million citizens has seen a fatality rate of 0.56% and a recovery rate of 93% of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Hand in hand with the President, Ministries and other stakeholder safety procedures are put in place to ensure the utmost safety of the international travellers as well as the locals.
Covid19 vaccine programs are now being carried out in the country. Currently more than 700,000 people received the vaccine making it 3.41 doses per 100 people. In addition, the Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Mrs. Kimarli Fernando, has put forward a proposal to provide vaccinations for the tourism industry with the hopes of resuming all Sri Lanka tourism activities as normal. The Minister of Tourism Hon. Prasanna Ranathunga has approved this proposition and together with the Ministry of Health. The special vaccination program will commence in the coming weeks.
Data Collection and Registration
Stakeholders of the tourism industry are now registering and sending information for the program. All employees of the Safe and Secure certified hotel amounting to 12,503 employees have now registered. Along with the registered tour guides: 2,737 and tourist drivers: 1,816 who play a significant role in tourism industry will be receiving the jab to fight Covid-19. Moreover, all staff members of all four tourism institutions and the Ministry of Tourism totalling, 658 individuals are added to the program. Together more than 17,000 individuals registered.
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