Sri Lanka gets tourism boost with arrival of Ukrainian tourists | Daily News
Tourism takes off:

Sri Lanka gets tourism boost with arrival of Ukrainian tourists

A total of 185 passengers arrived at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), Mattala, from Ukraine, aboard a SkyUp Boeing 737-900 charter flight on Monday afternoon, heralding a new chapter in post-Covid-19 tourism.

This is the first time that a group of tourists arrived in Sri Lanka since the country opened up after the Covid-19 outbreak and this group will be staying in the country for 10 to 14 days.  The passengers who arrived at the Mattala Airport were subject to PCR tests 72 hours prior to their departure from the Kiev Airport in Ukraine. They were subject to PCR tests again on their arrival in Mattala, prior to departure to their hotels. They will be subject to further PCR tests during their stay.

Prior to the arrival of the tourists, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told a news conference at the MRIA that this was a pilot project which was to continue from December 28 till January 24.

The Ukrainian tourists will be provided with accommodation within hotels on the coastal belt (mainly Koggala, Beruwala and Bentota) and will be in a ‘travel bubble’. They will not be able to come into contact with the local people of the area or at any sites they visit, under the controlled conditions. There will be a total of 2,580 tourists who will be arriving under this programme mainly from the CIS countries, the Minister said.

The Minister also said that based on the success of the project, the main international airports will be opened for commercial passengers as well in January. He said opening the airports was essential for the economy as nearly three million people were directly and indirectly affected by the downturn in tourism.

SkyUp Airlines commenced operations in May 2018 and is headquartered in Ukraine. Its main hub is the Boryspil International Airport (KBP) which is located 29 km east of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. SkyUp has been continuously expanding its route map and currently operates scheduled and charter flights to over 25 countries. The airline’s fleet consists of 11 aircraft which is also the youngest fleet among airlines in Ukraine with an average age of 11.5 years. SkyUp Airlines operates an all-economy class cabin and offers tailor-made airfares for passengers based on their travel needs.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has also given directions to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority on the health guidelines to be implemented during the Pilot Project which is due to be implemented between December 28 and January 24.

The Pilot Project’s stakeholders include the Department of Immigration, Civil Aviation Authority, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the Health Ministry.

Tourists can arrive on board charter flights, scheduled flights or private jets to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Mattala (MRIA) airports.

Arrival of tourists would be limited to a maximum of 300 passengers per day. Visitors from all countries with prior visas will be permitted. In addition to visa fees, costs for two PCR tests and COVID-19 insurance will be levied through the Tourism App. Prepaid hotel booking is essential for a minimum of seven days. Details of the international traveller should be sent to the area Medical Officer of Health when issuing visas. On arrival, a PCR test is to be done prior to checking in at the hotel where the tourist has already made a pre-paid booking. The PCR test can be conducted by a private sector hospital arranged by the hotel or carried out by a laboratory approved by the Health Ministry. Another PCR test should be conducted five to seven days after arrival, through the same hotel. If the tourist is staying longer, an additional PCR test has to be conducted between 10 and 14 days of arrival as decided by the area Medical Officer of Health.

Tourists are not permitted to move outside the hotel, except to identified sites approved by the COVID Taskforce under a bio-security bubble if the on-arrival PCR test result is negative. If any tourist turns COVID positive during his or her stay (or experiences any other medical condition), medical care should be availed of through the COVID-19 insurance or at the tourist’s own expense.