It’s true that good news is quite rare these days, so much that a recent article said that the search trend for the term “good news” on Google has hit an all-time high since the pandemic. What better than some good news to start the day with and today, it is all about Sri Lanka opening its borders to tourists from August 1.
Having received over 1.9 million tourists last year for its flavourful cuisine, idyllic countrysides and eclectic culture, the country is a hotspot tourist destination in Asia. Sri Lanka which banks on its one-of-a-kind holiday offerings promptly reacted to the pandemic by closing its borders to flatten the curve of a contact-induced virus. Following prudent measures and strict lockdown protocols, the country has been able to hamper COVID-19 with just a few new cases in recent times.
What’s the catch?
Having said this, Sri Lanka also released a set of protocols visitors have to abide by during their vacation in Sri Lanka, which involves multiple and periodic COVID-screenings.
- Visitors to carry a COVID-negative certificate issued at least 72 hours before boarding their flight to Sri Lanka.
- Visitors to subject themselves to a free COVID-screening test when they arrive at the airport for which the results will be presented in 4-5 hours.
- Visitors will be retested for COVID-19 at their hotel four or five days into their vacation.
- If the visitor is staying longer than ten days, the rapid testing teams will visit them again for a recheck.
- Visitors can continue their holiday should they be tested COVID-negative and if found otherwise, will be subject to 14-20 days of mandatory quarantine in a designated hotel.
Sri Lanka tourism board went ahead and remarked that “while this may sound difficult, it’s necessary to protect people from the current threats to safety and health.” The country looks at accrediting properties and tourism establishments with “Safe & secure certificate” if they comply with the CDC safety guidelines. This is to ensure that travellers feel safe and have a hassle-free vacation without worrying about safety and hygiene. But will the tourism experience remain the same as before?
It might not. What about the testing costs? Will the visa fee see a hike? How long can a visitor say? Here are some FAQ’s about visiting Sri Lanka in August.
- Visitors should book for a minimum stay of 5 days via SLTDA registered (official tourism website) travel agencies
- Visitors to opt for a property deemed “Safe & secure” by the government
- Visitors to stay close to the airport on the first day of vacation to receive their COVID test results (Colombo/Negombo areas for visitors arriving at Bandaranaike/Ratmalana International Airports and Hambantota area for arrivals from Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport)
- Visitors/travel agents/accommodation providers to register trip details with the SLTDA online
- Visitors to carry travel insurance with health and hospitalization coverage for the entire period of stay
- Valid return ticket along with proof of accommodation and itinerary with SLDTA-approved properties.
- Visitors to not rely on public transport during their vacation and hence advised to plan internal transfers before arrival
And most importantly, visa on arrival and free visa are suspended until further notice.
Hence, travellers need to obtain a visa on arrival online for USD 100 (INR 7573.65) until stated otherwise. The visa cost was USD 40 before lockdown.
While COVID-19 has had quite an impact on Sri Lanka tourism, this news fortifies the hope of “normal” travel in the near future, albeit not immediately.