Colombo: Sri Lanka, the island of Paradise in the Indian Ocean, is ready to welcome global travelers from all countries starting from Aug 1, following the country's successful containment of COVID-19.
Announcing it, Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, said: "Sri Lanka Tourism will provide international visitors with the highest standards of safety as we embrace tourists from across the world to experience the beauty of our paradise island once more."
"The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has put in place all precautions recommended by global health and travel authorities to re-open the country to tourists."
Ranked as the number one country for travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet, Sri Lanka offers a diverse range of attractions from pristine beaches to lush green mountains and is known as an island that offers 'unmissable experiences'.
Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Ratmalana International Airport (RIA) as well as Hambantota's Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) will be opened from 1st August 2020 for international travelers from all nations.
The issuing of visas will be only online and must be applied for prior to travel. The online visa procedure and requirements for tourists from 1st August 2020 are:
- A negative PCR test report from an accredited laboratory taken within 72 hours prior to landing in Sri Lanka
- A confirmed travel itinerary covering at least 5 nights at certified accommodations . A valid return air ticket . Travel insurance with health and hospitalization cover . A visa fee of USD 100 will be applicable
Tourists will not have to undergo quarantine procedures. A mandatory health screening and sanitizing process including a PCR test will be conducted at arrival Airports free of charge for tourists, and all travelers will be transferred through pre-booked transportation to designated hotels in close proximity to the airport, to await their PCR test results which would be expected within 24 hours.
First night pending the test result could be in a selected certified hotel in Colombo or Negombo for arrivals from BIA / RIA and in and around Hambantota for arrivals from MRIA. Sri Lanka Tourism will conduct further PCR tests free of charge, for any tourists staying longer than 5 nights.
An independent audit process will commence to certify registered entities as 'Safe & Secure', starting from five-star hotels, boutique hotels and villas, and four-star establishments, followed by certification of establishments ranked three-star and below.
Sri Lanka Tourism has developed guidelines and put in place necessary precautionary measures for all stakeholders to adopt
in their operations, to ensure the safety of international travelers.
All major tourist attractions are also required to have a COVID-19 health and safety protocol as per the guidelines and will have spot audits to ensure compliance.
This guideline will soon be available on the Sri Lanka Tourism website https://www.sltda.gov.lk/ and will be updated periodically to reflect latest global best practices and risk levels. A FAQs section too can be accessed on this site.
Sri Lanka claimed it has been highly successful in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and has proven that the country is not just the world's number one travel destination, but also a destination with an excellent health care system.
As at 20th May 2020, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health declared zero community transmission for over three weeks. Comprehensive guidelines are in place for the public at all times including hand hygiene and social distancing.
For travel related queries, the nos are (+94) 11 2426900 or (+94) 11 2440001 or visit www.srilanka.travel. Visa inquiries can be made through the official hotline of the Department of Immigration & Emigration (+94) 77 1588724.
IMAGE: Sri Lanka Tourism chairperson Ms. Kimarli Fernando.