Sri Lanka will offer the “quarantine-free” experience to foreign tourists when the country opens its airports this Thursday for commercial flights, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said.
Accordingly, the SLTDA has published a more relaxed set of safety protocols for visitors, which allows them to explore the island nation with fewer restrictions.
The authority said the safety protocols have been approved by the Health Ministry and also streamlined in consultation with the sector stakeholders to “ensure a smooth transition to begin operations in the midst of this new normal”.
While the previously proposed minimum stay requirement has been scrapped, tourists will be able to move about freely with minimum restrictions.
“Visitors to the island can stay even three to four days. Sri Lanka also 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.,” the SLTDA said in a statement.
According to the renewed protocol, the only requirements the tourists must satisfy to enter the country are to have a negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory 96 hours before departure and need for the travellers to stay at a ‘Safe and Secure’-certified, Level 1 hotel or hotels, in the initial 14 days of their stay.
The hotels, which are certified COVID-19 ‘safe and secure’, will not be allowed to accept bookings to hold any events or banquet functions for locals.
“This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the international visitors, assuring the safety of the local communities, employees of the industry and the visitors to the industry,” the SLTDA said. The SLTDA emphasised that the respective hotels and accommodation providers, along with the travel agents and tour operators, would be entrusted to ensure that the visitors don’t break the bubble of safety. To facilitate safe movement to tourism sites, the SLTDA said that together with the industry stakeholders, a bio-bubble has been created to allow international visitors to explore multiple sites and attractions in Sri Lanka.
The sites include places such as Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Yala, Udawalawe, Kaudulla and Wilpaththu National Parks, Mirissa whale watching, Sigiriya Fortress, Anuradhapura (excluding ‘Sri Maha Bodhiya’) and Polonnaruwa, among others.
The SLTDA reiterated it would take every possible step to provide international visitors “an amazing time” while ensuring their safety and providing a safe and secure operational environment for the service providers of the tourism industry.
It added that adequate measures have also been taken to ensure that the local communities are protected and secured as well.